Just what we need — another alien-on-human-on-alien take on an animated kiddie flick. The nice thing about children’s movies, of course, is that parents may very well have to watch them repeatedly on DVD with their children, but eventually (that is, unless you keep having kids over a period of decades like the Duggar family) the kids grow out of them, and the cycle can be put to rest within a particular family. So each pair of parents, ideally, doesn’t have to essentially keep watching the same movie being made over and over again forever and can thus (to a certain extent) avoid cinematic fatigue. In theory, that’s how Hollywood keeps getting away with essentially re-making the same children’s movies under different names and without a smidgen of creativity.
Escape from Planet Earth is a movie that you’ve seen many times before under different names, and it draws heavily from not only classic alien invasion flicks but also more recent efforts like Planet 51, Monsters vs. Aliens, and (of course) a lot of obvious influence from Monsters, Inc. (which isn’t technically an alien film, but it’s close enough).
Here’s the lowdown: An obnoxious, self-aggrandizing alien called Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser, delivering a weird combination of his aged George of the Jungle voice and Tim Allen doing Buzz Lightyear) arrives on Earth, wreaks havoc, and is duly captured by humans, led by General Shankner (William Shatner, of course), who has a creepy alien fetish and harbors a collection of such lifeforms. Scorch’s brother, Gary (Rob Corddry), takes action to organize a rescue with the help of his wife, Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker), and son, Kip (Jonathan Morgan Heit). The ultimate mission is to, well, Escape from Planet Earth. Sadly, that’s all there is to this movie. Point A to Point B with little interference, storywise. You know where the film’s going from the very beginning, and there’s no novelty, mystery, or wit in getting to the end. The characters are paper thin and barely fill out a single dimension — even when it comes to Ricky Gervais voicing a frenetic computer and Jessica Alba and Sofia Vergara taking on “the chicks” of the movie.
In helming his first feature film, director Cal Brunker brings little of the charm from his experience working on Despicable Me and Horton Hears a Who. To be fair, the script also lacks all sense of novelty, and the celebrity voices are all over the board but share the same characteristic of being awfully annoying. Poor Brendan Fraser’s career has taken a sharp nosedive in recent years, and this movie will do him no favors. Gervais and Shatner do nothing but gargle the scenery; Parker and Alba obviously think they have better places to be than a recording studio; and Vergara still refuses to stop doing her best Charo impression.
Overall, the film and its cast are entirely uninspired and unambitious, and Saturday morning cartoons are more entertaining than this little ditty. The animation is flat and unpleasant to look at despite the 3-D surcharge as well. If there’s any saving grace at all, the film’s relatively short runtime (less than 90 minutes with opening and closing formalities), and that’s really the only nice thing I can say about this movie. It gives me nothing to praise or really bitch about, but damn, I’m glad it was over quickly. Considering this movie and Weinstein Co.’s last animated effort, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, I’d say that Harvey is much better off pimping his Oscar contenders and making people wear Marchesa on the red carpet with some sense of tangible reward. This movie, however, doesn’t even justify its existence in theaters. Unless you have nothing better at all to do with your weekend, skip this dreadful excuse for a children’s movie. Kids may have a greater tolerance for mindless movies than adults, but everyone deserves better than Escape from Planet Earth.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.