Before I saw this movie the previews gave me the impression that this was just another computer animated and effects driven films trying to exploit a kid's inherent interest in this stuff. It turns out this movie has more thought put into it and a good deal more heart than I assumed (that's what I get for assuming). Aliens in the Attic isn't an instant classic by any means. However it delivers on what you want in a family sci-fi film. Cute enough in some places, witty enough in others.
So yeah, the plot isn't Shakespeare. You have a family on vacation that gets visited by some diminutive (and not too bright) aliens bent on taking over the world. This plot is very close to the same vein as the 80's movie Spaced Invaders. The difference, and it is substantial enough to keep the two movies from being similar, is where the focus is. Where Spaced Invaders put all of its attention on the wacky Martians, Aliens in the Attic puts its focus on the kids and how they deal with the invaders. For this movie it makes all the difference.
You see, the chemistry between the kids is tight. The main boy and his crazy cousins, lovelorn big sisters and a cute little sister all mesh their respective personalities into a coherent plot progression rather well. There isn't a whole lot of character development once the individual players have been established, but you don't need that much since the script capitalizes on the interactions. I'm not talking about two dimensional character clashes sort of capitalization. This movie shows a good example on how differing personalities can work together.
The acting is surprisingly good for these kids. All of them play their parts solid with nary a bad scene in the bunch. Ashley Tisdale is not the main focus of the movie, but her star quality wasn't wasted on. Although she is swimming in familiar waters with her character good acting is good acting. SNL alumnus Kevin Nealon and Tim Meadows both hit high marks in their comedic timing, even though Kevin mainly plays the straight man in his role. The big kudos, however, go to Robert Hoffman. He plays the jerk boyfriend to Ashley's character, and while the jerk scenes make you love to hate him the real joy in his performance come after the aliens take over his mind and Robert goes off on some of the craziest pratfalls and other physical humor with a hilariously crazy grin on his face. It's comedic gold!
The aliens are funny in a kids will get giggly kind of way. Sometimes they say something funny enough for the adults to snicker (include a funny observation on kissing). But mostly the aliens are for the kid's entertainment and are mostly two dimensional characters with very little to no depth. The CG animations for the aliens aren't bad, but they aren't going to really impress anybody on the technology either. Basically it's serviceable special effects for a production company that likely couldn't pull this off with puppets.
The Bu-Ray for the movie looks really great. Details pop out with a lot of clarity on both the CG aliens as well as the gorgeous backdrop of the vacation spot. Sound is also top notch with the DTS-HD 5.1 audio, but it's not exactly an audiophile reference kind of movie so don't expect to be blown away. Here's a quick rundown of the extras:
Introduction to Film with Ashley Tisdale - Just a quick hello from the move famous actress in the film. No big deal.
The Ashley Encounters - A short promo of the movie from actresses Ashley Tisdale and Ashley Boettcher. I wouldn't be surprised with this aired on the Disney Channel before the movie came out.
Alternate Ending - It's an unfinished product with the CG kind of in the middle phase of production. Not exactly a complete change from the actual ending, but it is different enough. Prefer the real ending anyway.
Behind the Zirkonians - It's a pretty long comic short story about the origins of the aliens. It's not exactly adult fare, but your kids will enjoy it.
Meet the Zirkonians - A little biography of the four aliens in the movie that you can browse through.
Lights, Camera, Aliens! - A short "making of" featurette that's pretty light on details. Feels like another promo for the movie more than an informative documentary.
Kung Fu Grandma - This is funny and weird at the same time. It's like a video game commercial using footage of the movie. The title of this featurette is kind of a spoiler for the movie and I'm glad I didn't know about it before I saw the flick.
Brian Anthony "Electricity" Music Video - It's a music video with clips of the movie. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School with Barry Josephson - This is the REAL "Making Of" documentary. It has more details on the film's production than the other fluff featurette, but it's not an all-inclusive thing.
Deleted Scenes and Gag Reel - Didn't get a chance to see these yet. They run about four minutes each and are self explanatory.
If you have kids ranging from grade school to the tweens I believe this film will keep them entertained provided they enjoy watching light science fiction to begin with. Others may enjoy it too for the other fun stuff, but maybe rent first to test the waters. For the adults it really depends on your threshold for this kind of entertainment. The aliens will annoy most of you, but the kids and grown ups in the movie will entertain. If you have a Blu-Ray player it's definitely worth getting if on BD if for nothing else so you can see the beautiful landscapes in high definition.