Around our house, for the past few years, Friday night is family movie night. We order pizza and watch a geeklet age appropriate movie in the home theater. Last night we gave Planet 51 a spin.
Wikipedia Plot Synopsis: “Planet 51 is a galactic sized animated alien adventure comedy revolving around American astronaut Captain Charles “Chuck” Baker, who lands on Planet 51 thinking he’s the first person to step foot on it. To his surprise, he finds that this planet is inhabited by little green people who are happily living in a white picket fence world reminiscent of a cheerfully innocent 1950s America, and whose only fear is that it will be overrun by alien invaders…like Chuck!” Voice actors include: Dwayne Johnson, Justin Long, Jessica Biel, Seann William Scott, Gary Oldman and John Cleese. (Sony Pictures)
When Planet 51 was released in the theater it seemed to have an entertaining premise and an impressive voice cast, but it didn’t pique my interest enough to warrant a $40 family trip to the theater. My instinct was mostly right, although there were a few surprises.
Surprise #1: The exceptional 3D animation. The 1950’s Americana look and feel of Planet 51 was outstanding. It was created by Llion Studios out of Spain. Llion appears to be an upstart for 3D feature animation. The design and animation was right up there with the best of Pixar’s work, something I was not expecting.
Surprise #2: There were a few laugh out loud moments that weren’t spoiled in the trailers. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough of those moments to run the full length of the film. What the film mostly relies on are nods to other sci-fi genre films. Some not so subtile like the “dog” that looks like a baby Alien and is named Ripley. Some a little less in your face like a ET style “moon fly-by”. It all adds up to a bit of fun but nothing that really sticks with you. If Planet 51 wasn’t so much fun to look at its lack of a gripping story would be more apparent.
On the kid appropriate side of things it’s fairly benign but does include some Shrek style double entendre type of humor. However, I found it to be less “charged” then Shrek. Uncoincidentally both films share the same writer.
Geeklet Approval Rating: My 10 & 13 year olds rated it 3.5 out of 5. Which means they enjoyed it but weren’t blown away.
Bottom Line: “B” movie level script with “A” level design and animation. Visually stunning and moderately entertaining, lacks real heart to make it truly memorable.
Rated PG available on: Bluray and DVD.