Aliens in the Attic

‘Aliens in the Attic’ destined for cellar

By Ty Burr
Globe Staff / August 1, 2009

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How many alien-invasion movies do you see where you root for the aliens to win? Except for one splendidly bizarre scene, “Aliens in the Attic’’ is conveyor-belt family product, an action/adventure/sci-fi/comedy made from the bland corporate DNA of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. It appears designed for families who never leave the mall.

That one scene, though - it’s a honey. See, the nasty little ETs who have invaded the vacation home of the Pearson clan shoot darts that turn grown-ups into zombies controlled by a video-game-style joystick. At one point both the arrogant boyfriend (Robert Hoffman) and dear sweet Nana (Doris Roberts) get zapped and embark on a kickboxing battle of epic comic proportions. It’s almost worth the price of admission to see Mom from “Everybody Loves Raymond’’ go medieval a la “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.’’

On second thought, wait for the DVD. “Aliens in the Attic’’ rounds up a group of intensely unlikable cousins and asks us to sympathize with them as they fight off an advance quartet of unconvincing CGI spacemen (and women). The hero is Tom (Carter Jenkins), a lanky high schooler who’s miserable because - sigh - he gets good grades. Henri and Regan Young play his Game Boy-addict twin cousins, Austin Butler their obnoxious teenage brother, and little Ashley Boettcher the designated Drew Barrymore who befriends one of the ETs.

Ashley Tisdale - a special guest star in this context - knocks around the background as Tom’s spoiled sister. As that zombie boyfriend, Hoffman gets most of the slapstick laughs, and he’s about as funny as you’d expect from a third-tier Jim Carrey imitator. The aliens’ voices are provided by Thomas Haden Church, J.K. Simmons, Josh Peck, and Kari Wahlgren. Kevin Nealon, Gillian Vigman, Andy Richter, and Tim Meadows play the grown-ups. Like everything else in “Aliens in the Attic,’’ they’re instantly disposable.

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ALIENS IN THE ATTIC Directed by: John Schultz

Written by: Mark Burton and Adam F. Goldberg

Starring: Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Tisdale, Ashley Boettcher, Robert Hoffman, Doris Roberts

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 86 minutes

Rated: PG (action violence, some suggestive humor and language)

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