A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Aliens Ate My Homework is a live-action adaptation of the first book in Bruce Coville's successful series, Rod Allbright and the Galactic Patrol. In this origin story, Rod Allbright (Jayden Greig), a 12-year-old boy, is visited by aliens who are out to save Earth. The miniature beings, more humorous than scary, crash-land in a miniature spaceship in Rod's bedroom. Expect frequent mild action: ray guns, lightning, characters (including small children) frozen in place as hostages and held captive. (Spoiler alert: The villain is vanquished when he's pelted with muck.) Another sixth-grader bullies the hero and his friend, mashing a large bug into his victim's hair and face. Words like "booger" and "fart" are used to get laughs. Some sad moments relate to Rod's father disappearing three years earlier in a turbulent storm. But overall it should be OK for kids who are comfortable with real vs. pretend violence.
What's the story?
Rod Allbright's dad, dedicated to making science fun for his family, disappears when a strange storm carries him away in ALIENS ATE MY HOMEWORK. But before he is whooshed away, he promises Rod that he'll return. Three years later, Rod (Jayden Greig), now a sixth-grader, still misses his dad terribly but never stops believing that he'll come back. Bullied at school by the ruthless Billy (Ty Consiglio), Rod and his best friend, Mickey (Sean Quan), are simply outmatched. But things are going to change for Rod Allbright. To his utter amazement, a miniature spaceship crash-lands in his bedroom. Four very small (action figure-sized) alien members of "The Galactic Patrol" -- three creatures and a talking plant (voiced by William Shatner) -- are in desperate need of his help. Their mission is to find B'kr, a ferocious villain guilty of the galaxy's greatest crime: cruelty. Certain B'kr is masquerading as a human, they must stop him before he can execute his plan to destroy the earth. It’s all overwhelming at first. Not only does he have to keep the Galaxy Patrol's arrival secret and help them repair their damaged spacecraft, but his annoying cousin Elspeth (Lauren McNamara) has also arrived to stay with his family. And, most bizarre of all, the evil B’kr may be posing as someone Rod knows!
Is it any good?
Kids will find some laughs and some characters to like here, but the primitive special effects and general amateurish production make this movie hard to recommend. What's good about the film -- an inventive premise and the emphasis on science -- came from the book. It’s clear that having William Shatner on board was a casting coup for the filmmakers, but his performance is more annoying than engaging. A crucial plot element, the disappearance of Rod Allbright's dad, isn't resolved, and the movie's ending indicates that there will be further adventures. On a positive note, Aliens Ate My Homework may inspire some kids to read the popular Coville book series, and that's always a good thing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Aliens Ate My Homework. Even though it's a live-action movie, the action is more cartoon-like than real. What is the impact of violence on kids? Does cartoon violence lessen that impact? Why or why not?
How did the arrival of the Galactic Patrol help Rod work out his own issues? With Billy? With Elspeth? In what ways did Rod change over the course of his adventure?
The Drake Equation -- estimating the possibility of other lifeforms in the cosmos -- really exists. Have you ever thought about that possibility? Create your own ideal planet or star. What would the civilization and its inhabitants look like? What kind of world would it be?
- On DVD or streaming: March 6, 2018
- Cast: Jayden Greig, Lauren McNamara, William Shatner
- Director: Sean McNamara
- Studio: Universal 1440 Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Misfits and Underdogs, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude humor, mild action, and thematic elements
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.