Parents' Guide to

Kids vs. Aliens

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Despite title, sci-fi tale not for kids; swearing, violence.

Movie NR 2023 75 minutes
Kids vs. Aliens Movie Poster: Five teens stand in front of an alien in a collage

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This crude, unevenly paced alien-invasion adventure targets young-at-heart adults, kids at unsupervised sleepovers, or families who think it's funny when kids are foul-mouthed jokesters. Based on the short film "Slumber Party Alien Abduction," the premise of Eisener's tribute to "simpler times" when siblings and pals made home movies in their backyard is really thin: A hormonal older sister betrays her little brother's trust right before aliens kidnap a house party full of underage kids. It's somewhat promising at first, but the dialogue is so reliant on coarse language that it stops being novel by the 50th use of "effing" in the first 15 minutes. There's no world-building to explain the nature of the alien arrival and little characterization to develop why Samantha and Gary's parents would think it's appropriate to leave their 16-year-old daughter in charge for a weekend. The parents (Jessica Marie Brown and Jonathan Torrens) are so awful that Dad literally takes a call while Gary is in the hospital to apologize for being temporarily delayed because he's dealing with "family s--t." Suspension of disbelief is fine when it comes to extra terrestrials, but the depiction of these parents strains all credulity.

The slim production values work in Gary's movie-within-a-movie sections, but the creature work is straight out of a 1960s B-movie. The old-school humanoid aliens with giant heads look more like something out of a vintage theme park than a 21st century film. But ultimately they're secondary to the family drama playing out between the siblings. And the human antagonists -- Billy and his crew -- are worse than the aliens. They're completely one-note; it's clear from the moment Billy spots Samantha that he's a manipulative jerk, and his treatment of Gary and his friends is indefensible. Kids vs. Aliens does offer a few lighthearted laughs, but overall it's a movie that had more potential than substance. Even at just an hour and 15 minutes, it feels simultaneously unfinished and overlong.

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