Rewind Review: Aliens in the Attic

If you skipped the movies this weekend and only glanced at the box-office figures you might’ve thought it was a rather dismal weekend. Financially speaking that is the case but one must always keep in mind that the box office is not always a true barometer.

The top ten films combined to just barely top $106 Million over the weekend when just a few weeks ago Harry Potter was nearly at the mark within two days. That is not to say this weekend was devoid of quality. Wallowing lowly in 5th place is an overlooked, under-advertised, and under-appreciated film which is a great time for all just waiting to happen; and one that you should catch before it makes a premature exit from multiplexes.

Aliens in the Attic fully lives up to the vibe I picked up from it when I first saw a trailer for it some time back. It seemed like a displaced ’80s film which had been updated for a modern audience. What I mean is that the film is relevant to today’s youth as the extended family that fight off an invasion of miniature aliens in their vacation home make jokes about how the mind control devices are like video game systems, yet the feel of the film is from a different time.

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Those elements which hearken back to yesteryear being mainly: an irreverent, at times goofy, comedy where kids are protagonists, a fantastical world that only the kids have access to while the parents are clueless in more ways than one, a relatively anonymous lead cast, an alien who befriends kids and not necessarily politically correct jokes like “Oh no, it’s the po-po” and “He got hit in the nards” (the latter very reminiscent of the ’80s classic Monster Squad).

From the very start of the film the tone is set that the film will be consistently funny and not only funny but fun. So much so that you just go along for the ride and certain questions about dubious plot points or rationale on the aliens’ parts don’t take up too much of your attention.

The CG, as one would hope was the case in a film where certain key characters are computer animated is pretty good and never shows glaring weakness. The cast despite some seemingly strange choices is quite good. Most notably the young core of the film (Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Boettcher and the Young twins) also deserving of praise are SNL alums Kevin Nealon, who plays a clueless dad in the Chevy Chase mold, and Tim Meadows who brings his wry wit to the sheriff’s role. SNL’s best generation have had overall less than stellar film turns but this two-for is one of the best showings by that class in a while.

 

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The film benefits most from its fine, sharp writing. The writing excels in practically every sense – comedy, one-liners and pace. Despite having quite a diverse cast of characters, none of which have much time devoted to them alone, we definitely get a sense of character from all involved – even the aliens.

The most one can truly ask of a film is to be entertained and Aliens in the Attic does so in spades. It’s pretty much non-stop engagement and enjoyment and there is something for everyone in the family and it’s most definitely worth checking out.

The IMDb user rating is currently a 4.6 which in my estimation is much too low, and it’s a serious contender for most underrated title of the year. It’s not perfect of course, nothing is, but it’s one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in while and I was rather amazed by that so I will give it a 9/10 – a truly good film which was just a minute detail or so away from greatness but still a wholly satisfying and extremely enjoyable experience.

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