Aliens in the Attic

 
Silly teens-versus-aliens adventure is sure to delight kids.
  • Review Date: July 30, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The educational value would be higher if the premise didn't involve keeping parents and other adults in authority out of the loop. But kids do learn the importance of family, teamwork, and that you should never pretend to be "dumb" just to look "cool."

Positive messages

 

The cousins get along and learn to work together to save their parents (and all of humanity, for that matter). With youngest cousin Hannah leading the way, all of the cousins decide to help the kind, non-threatening alien.

 

Positive role models

The cousins are all, in their own way, positive examples of brave, selfless kids willing to sacrifice their own safety for the greater good. They're creative with their problem-solving skills (how to effectively keep the aliens at bay).

Violence & scariness

The violence is mostly cartoonish -- although they're menacing, the aliens aren't scary. Most of the violence involves potato and paint guns, as well as other handmade weapons that the kids devise. The alien trio can control adult humans by shooting a small device into them, which leads to some humorous fight scenes a la The Matrix. A few possibly disturbing scenes involve Jake being tied and dragged away by the aliens and the aliens being temporarily expanded into giants. There's no blood, and no one dies.

Sexy stuff

Heavy flirting between Bethany and her boyfriend Ricky, who picks her up while she's wearing a bikini and talks about "hooking up" and her "playing nursemaid" to him. He later says her friend is "smoking hot." The cousins talk about whether Ricky has gotten "to second base" with Bethany.

Language

Mild insults are hurled frequently: "idiot," "stupid," "tool," "loser," "princess" (said to a guy), "dumb," "shut up." Other language includes "crap," "oh my God," "what the..." (not completed), and "heck."

Consumerism

Many recognizable products are featured or mentioned: Coke/Diet Coke, Apple/Mac, Mentos, Trunki kids' suitcases, Altavision Grand Prix, Nintendo DS, X-box, the movie The Mask of Zorro, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this alien adventure comedy stars Disney Channel and Nickelodeon veterans like Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical) and Austin Robert Butler (Zoey 101), so expect tweens and younger elementary schoolers to be interested.There's a heavy dose of physical humor and action, as well as some mildperil, but it's fairly mild compared to other tween-targetedfilms. The language includes frequent use of insults like "stupid," "idiot," and "tool," while the consumerism focuses heavily onelectronics (Nintendo, Mac, X-box, etc.).

What's the story?

The six Pearson cousins are vacationing together in a rented lake house when Jake (Austin Butler) and Tom (Carter Jenkins) make a far-out discovery: There are four freaky Zirconian aliens in the attic, and they have pretty scary plans for humanity. Since the extra-terrestrials use a device that can control adults but not kids, the young Pearsons unite to save their parents -- and the rest of the world -- from the little green aliens.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Since the aliens are funnier than they are frightening, the film's cartoonish nature should thrill even younger adventure-seekers. The two dads, played by comedic vets Kevin Nealon and Andy Richter, don't have much to do, although Nana (Doris Roberts) gets to star in a rather hilarious, Matrix-style fight against Bethany's (Ashley Tisdale) alien-operated boyfriend, Ricky (Robert Hoffman).

Ultimately, this is the classic formula of band-of-heroic-kids versus  dangerous antagonists. In this case, one of the aliens (voiced by Josh Peck) is sympathetic to humans, so he helps the kids, too. While younger audiences will hoot and root for the Pearson clan, parents will snicker at the sight of children completely unfamiliar with a rotary phone and grown-ups so out of the loop that they'll think a descending alien force is a meteor shower. Consider this a Gremlins-lite for the X-box generation.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's cartoonish violence. Will younger kids be frightened, or do you think they'll understand from the start that the aliens aren't all that evil?

  • Parents can also discuss the kids' secrecy. Kids: is it generally a wise idea to keep important concerns from your parents?

  • An important issue is raised when Tom, a "mathlete," says he'd rather hide his intelligence and tank his grades than be labeled a nerd. Why is this a dangerous message? Why does Tom change his mind?

  • There's a noticeable amount of brand placement in the movie. What message do all those corporate logos send kids?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 31, 2009
DVD release date:November 3, 2009
Cast:Ashley Tisdale, Austin Robert Butler, Carter Jenkins
Director:John Schultz
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Space and aliens
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:action violence, some suggestive humor and language.

This review of Aliens in the Attic was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 9 and 12 year old Written byHighPlainsMom August 11, 2009
age 10+
 

Entertaining for Tweens

I always wonder why film makers find it necessary to include any remotely sexual content in movies marketed to young children. Although it may fly right over the heads of younger kids or older, desensitized children -- there are scenes involving the older sister and her boyfriend (who, it is revealed in the movie, has lied about his age in order to date a younger girl) which seem a bit naughty. There are public displays of affection, a scene near a pool where the girl sits in a revealing bikini and inferences that the boyfriend has lied about his car breaking down in order to spend the night in the same house with the girl(some might even infer that he wishes to sleep with her.) As is usually the case, the adults are portrayed as clueless and unresponsive to the concerns of their younger children. As for the alien activity, I didn't find it at all scary and there is one friendly alien who is downright adorable. There is some slapstick-type violence and a few explosions. Overall, the movie is entertaining for older children and adults. My 12-year-old son enjoyed it.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent of a 8 and 9 year old Written byRichard Warriner January 24, 2011
age 7+
 

Great film for kids and adults alike

Takes a while to get started but once the aliens show up the fun starts. My 8 & 9 year olds loved it and I have to admit that there were several laugh out loud moments for me too
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written byMcKFam August 1, 2009
age 8+
 
J, age 10, and P, age 8, thought that Aliens in the attic was a little scary. It is very funny. Mom and Dad thought it was entertaining... but there was a little too much sexy stuff. Other than that-- really cute movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages

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