Parents' Guide to

Can of Worms

By Tracey Petherick, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Nerdy teens battle aliens in harmless Disney sci-fi fun.

Movie NR 1999 90 minutes
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From the kitschy opening credits to the garish animatronic aliens, this feels like a cult 1980s movie -- despite being made by the Disney Channel in 1999. But once you get beyond the dated synthesizer music and rubbery puppets, you'll find an entertaining coming-of-age sci-fi yarn. It's a combination of typical high school angst -- failing at football, liking the popular girl -- and preposterous space fantasy. Even the laughable special effects just add to the fun.

The extra-terrestrials who aren't trying to abduct everyone are witty and amusing (an intergalactic lawyer who offers to help Mike sue planet Earth; alien media agents in a bidding war to get Mike on their books) while Barnabus the talking dog -- brilliantly voiced by McDowell -- brings a comedic gravitas to the chaos. The teenage cast does a good job of balancing nerdiness with charm, and Mike has a couple of great scenes that bring to mind the manic energy of Doc Brown in Back to the Future. In many ways the overall message here is "be careful what you wish for." But dig beneath the kitschy surface and Can of Worms is also a lesson in appreciating what you've got, even when you feel like you don't belong.

Movie Details

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