Pin It
Favorite

The Day Planet 51 Stood Still 

Beyond the critters, there isn’t much going on in the Rock’s latest kids film

click to enlarge art14363.jpg

We have no idea why it’s called Planet 51, or why the pleasantly blobby green humanoid aliens wear no trousers. We also have no idea why they’re speaking English or going through a version of the 1950s, complete with malt shops and alien invasion movies. And then an Earth human arrives to terrorize them.

It doesn’t matter, I guess.

Planet 51 isn’t really interested in saying much to its audience. It’s only mildly amusing, and what little amusement there is will go right over kids’ heads. There’s a lot that would be appealing to sci-fi fans — it’s a pastiche of 1950s B-movies — except all that’s lost when the parody of the paranoia and xenophobia of those fi lms is so trite and obvious. It’s not enough to point and laugh at silly old movies with their now blatant subtexts.

See, American astronaut Captain Charles T. Baker (the voice of Dwayne Johnson) arrives on this distant planet expecting to fi nd it uninhabited. Instead, Baker lands his Apollo-style lander in small-town Glipforg, and now Lem (the voice of Justin Long) and his sci-fi -obsessed pal Skiff (the voice of Seann William Scott) must hide the alien invader lest mean ol’ General Grawl (the voice of Gary Oldman) moves to capture the invader.

Planet 51 isn’t terrible, just bland and predictable, though at least the humor that’s tacked on is gentle and unassuming. There are only a scant few jokes about the presumed anal violation that the idiot fl yboy astronaut will infl ict upon the natives.

Planet 51 really does offer genuine eye candy. Its world is charming to look at, all round edges and hovering cars, and the fi lm features two of the most delightful only-coulda-beenanimated characters ever: a dog that’s like a cuddly little H.R. Giger Alien and a rock-loving planetary rover — which also behaves like a dog, even though it looks like Wall-E.

And when these two critters get together, it’s the most adorable puppyish fun you can get without, you know, having actual puppies.

I wish the whole movie had been about them.

PLANET 51 Rated PG Directed by Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad Voiced by Dwayne Johnson, Justin Long

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend
  • Print (and Reprint) the Legend

    Jackie keeps repeating its intriguing ideas about turning people into icons
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Gangster's Bore
  • Gangster's Bore

    Ben Affleck directs and stars in Live by Night, but forgets to add some excitement
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Crucial Stuff
  • Crucial Stuff

    Hidden Figures rights wrongs both cinematic and historic
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival

Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival @ Gonzaga University

Thu., Jan. 19, 7-9 p.m., Sat., Jan. 21, 7-9 p.m. and Sun., Jan. 22, 2-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Maryann Johanson

  • Gangster's Bore
  • Gangster's Bore

    Ben Affleck directs and stars in Live by Night, but forgets to add some excitement
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Crucial Stuff
  • Crucial Stuff

    Hidden Figures rights wrongs both cinematic and historic
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • Big Tales
  • Big Tales

    A Monster Calls is a beautiful and unique story about children
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Most Commented On

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Review


Film


Music


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Spy vs. Spy
  • Spy vs. Spy

    The Man from U.N.C.L.E. carves out a unique space in a crowded espionage marketplace
    • Aug 12, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation