A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Escape from Planet Earth is an animated alien adventure that features more violence, consumerism, and even references to romance than other similar films aimed at kids. There are some deaths in the movie: A father is killed when a spaceship lands on him, a man plummets to his doom from the air, and a freed alien is eaten by a much larger, scary-looking alien. A general is sadistic and likes to torture/exploit aliens. Unlike many other animated movies, this one doesn't shy away from sexuality, either: Alien couples kiss several times, a female admires her boyfriend's body, several characters comment on a "nerdy" character's beautiful wife, and online dating is even referenced. Lastly, families sensitive to consumerism should know that there are parts of the movie that seem practically like a commercial for 7-Eleven.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Two alien brothers -- nerdy mission control specialist Gary (voiced by Rob Corddry) and his brave, brash astronaut brother Scorch (Brendan Fraser) -- lead all of the space expeditions on the distant, technologically advanced planet of Baab. Scorch is the creature of action, while Gary is a creature of thought; even Gary's own son prefers his courageous uncle to his cautious dad. After one too many brotherly fights, Gary quits just as Scorch decides to embark on a mysteriously assigned mission to the "Dark Planet" -- Earth. Upon arrival on Earth, Area 51 military commander General Shanker (William Shatner) takes Scorch into custody. Gary summons his courage to rescue Scorch and discovers that there's a secret plot that could destroy not only Baab, but every planet.
Is it any good?
Movies like this are infuriating, because they prove that some studios believe families will respond favorably to any release aimed at kids. Are families that desperate for an afternoon matinee that they should put up with poorly executed movies with ridiculous stereotypes and over-the-top product placements, just because they're animated? Is it necessary to put down scientists as "nerds" and mothers as "little Miss Housewife" to get laughs? Why in the world does a movie need to partner with 7-Eleven for a running (and unfunny after the first time) gag?
Yes, there are a few sweet messages about family and brotherhood and how one person can make a difference, but those themes are overshadowed by the movie's violence -- Shatner's vengeful general is quite the sadistic torturer at times -- the off-putting romantic references (there are several kisses and allusions to online dating and even a va-va-voom alien voiced by Sofia Vergara). Skip this forgettable flop and rent/buy/stream/re-watch E.T., Monsters vs. Aliens, Close Encounters, or almost any other alien-themed film instead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of alien movies. Why is it so compelling to depict extra-terrestrials and their relationship to humans? How are the humans in Escape from Planet Earth represented? What about the aliens?
Except for their features, the Baab-based aliens are pretty much just like humans in the way they live and even the names of their organizations and consumer products. Is it necessary for friendly aliens to resemble humans this way?
Do you think the content in this movie matches with the intended target audience? Why or why not?
What purpose do all of the references to brands -- particularly to 7-Eleven -- serve? Do they add anything to the story?
- In theaters: February 15, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 4, 2013
- Cast: Brendan Fraser, Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry, William Shatner
- Director: Cal Brunker
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action and some mild humor
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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