Movie Review: 'Planet 51'

In an interesting plot flip, Planet 51 makes us the foreigners in an alien land. When Capt. Charles Baker (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) lands his spaceship on Planet 51, he quickly discovers that he’s not alone. He finds himself in the midst of a community straight out of Hollywood’s version of 1950s America -- and the denizens’ biggest fear is an alien invasion. The little green men, in an uproar over the invader’s intentions, confiscate Chuck’s ship. That’s when Chuck joins forces with Planet 51 resident, Lem (Justin Long), and his friends to get the earthling back to his ship -- and home.

Planet 51 is intended for a younger audience, but the story and most of the jokes connect better with parents and older kids. References to the '50s lifestyle and a groovy hippie-protest band, for example, are much funnier to adults than their confused kids. Unfortunately, the story won’t be interesting to teenagers, and some of the humor is a tad inappropriate: When Chuck loses his towel, an alien makes the comment “What a funny place to put an antenna.” And Chuck’s “dating advice” for Lem borders on misogynistic as he switches into a goofy act, cooing baseless compliments and twirling his lady.

Chuck uses smarmy charm and his dashing good looks to hook the girl (something that awkward teen Lem can’t quite replicate and his love interest isn’t fooled). Luckily, a roving space vehicle, named Rover, brings the cuteness factor (although he is eerily similar to another animated robot, Wall-E). While it’s not without its charms, you probably want to wait for this one to come out on DVD.

Jessica Lambertson

• Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox
• Book Review: Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
• Video Game Review: Scribblenauts
• Movie Review: Road to Avonlea


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