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:: Aliens In The Attic

An intergalactic battle for supremacy ensues in the unlikeliest venue imaginable - the attic of a family’s holiday house – in an action adventure the entire family can feast upon. Directed by John Schultz, Aliens in the Attic echoes Joe Dante’s hugely entertaining and superior Small Soldiers except with aliens in place of toys, and a screenplay that’s a little light on witty social commentary. There are half-hearted stabs at tapping into trends and habits attributable to a new generation of teens, but hamstrung by a need to reduce its consumer references to strictly PG-relatable concepts, writers Mark Burton and Adam F. Goldberg have limited impact in what is essentially an effects movie extravaganza.

All the stereotypical pieces are in place, including the geeky would-be hero, Tom (Carter Jenkins), the nasty, derisive jock, Ricky (Robert Hoffman), and the perky, slighty dim-witted blonde, Bethany (Ashley Tisdale) who, naturally, is the only person on the planet unable to see her jerk of a boyfriend for what he is. Brought together for a holiday retreat in the middle of summer with relatives, they soon find themselves embroiled in an urgent save-the-planet quest as a quartet of pint-sized aliens descend through the layers of storm clouds to set the groundwork for a full-scale takeover from beyond the stars.

Shooting electrical charges into adults allows the visitors to take control of human forms via remotes but kids, it seems, are immune to this method, so the pesky aliens have a tougher time shaking off the innovative resistance the youngsters provide. As the battle begins in the mansion’s upper reaches, the kids try their best to contain it without drawing any undue attention from their predictably gullible, ignorant parents whose politically correct mode of promoting good clean fun is easily deflected in a few hairy moments of near-discovery. As battle lines are drawn and the signs of damage less easily concealed, the film picks up momentum, with everyone pitching in to save the world.

The aliens themselves may be an ugly crew of advance officers, but their major failing is their general incompetence, prone to squabbling amongst themselves in stressful moments. Not expecting much resistance from our side, their charge is further undermined by the geeky Sparks (voiced by Josh Peck) whose technical capabilities are offset by his mounting empathy for the humans. Before long Sparks is isolated with youngster Hannah (Ashley Boettcher) who takes a real shine to him, and feeling more aligned with his supposed foes he soon becomes a traitorous spy for their rearguard action.

Aliens in the Attic is a frenzied comedic adventure with enough sustained activity to keep it humming along without the risk of boredom ever really setting in. Though strictly generic fare, it manages a few notable moments of gleeful excess, including gratuitous but warranted abuse of Ricky who becomes a tool for the kids revenge; there’s also a reverential nod in a Matrix-style face-off with feisty Nana (Doris Roberts) used as a remote-controlled zombie defender to battle an alien-controlled Ricky in a rip-roaring CGI karate-fest.

Despite resorting to lazy, formulaic ciphers and relying on expensive effects to sweep over its plentiful deficiencies, this is passable holiday entertainment with enough humourous thrills to pacify demanding children and just enough spark to keep adults awake for all of its 85 minutes.