A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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."
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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 mild peril, but it's fairly mild compared to other tween-targeted films. The language includes frequent use of insults like "stupid," "idiot," and "tool," while the consumerism focuses heavily on electronics (Nintendo, Mac, X-box, etc.). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.