Sunday, November 22, 2009

Planet 51 (**)

Planet 51. 87 mins. PG. Directed by Jorge Blanco and Javier Abad. Written by Joe Stillman. Starring the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Justin Long, Seann William Scott, Jessica Biel, and Gary Oldman.

Planet 51 is about as bland and harmless an animated movie as you're likely to see this year, but I will say this - it's a great babysitting tool. Augie has been obsessed with the movie poster for months now (note: he also likes to look at Shrek - a clear indicator of some kind of green rubbery character fixation), so I felt it necessary to take him. He watched the entire thing - didn't really grow bored or antsy either. The story is basically just E.T. in reverse. When an astronaut (voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) lands on Planet 51, it's up to a group of "alien" kids to get him back to his spaceship before the military gets hold of him. Keeping with the current tradition of unnecessarily casting famous voices in every role, Planet 51 boasts a pretty impressive voice cast (including Gary Oldman), but the script lacks the humor and grace of the Pixar and Dreamworks CGI animated films, so all that star wattage is for nought. The movie's best gag is an Alien-looking dog who pees acid, but I'm fairly certain most kids in the audience aren't going to get the Alien reference. No matter - if it captures their attention as much as it did Augie's, parents are going to have no problem heading out to Planet 51, no matter how lame it actually is.

- John


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