A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Luis and the Aliens is a 2018 animated feature in which a tween boy is befriended by a group of aliens who have landed on Earth so they can buy a massage mat. The humor is definitely geared toward younger kids, with lots of potty humor -- belching aliens, poop emojis, name-calling like "booger brain." Some bullying occurs: The lead character is shoved into a garbage can by the school bully, who calls Luis names like "freak," "butthead," and "nerd boy." There some cartoon violence -- usually slapstick punching between the aliens, but also a car chase and demonic imagery when the main antagonist is revealed to be a vicious alien. Luis' mother passed away, and that's mentioned on occasion, especially as Luis struggles to live with his alien-obsessed father, and his school is sending a representative to look into his home life. There's one reference to someone being drunk.
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What's the story?
LUIS AND THE ALIENS follows a boy name Luis (Callum Maloney), a tween who is having a tough time. He's bullied at school, he's awkward around the girl he likes, and his dad is obsessed with aliens. Things change when a group of aliens arrive on Earth (or as they pronounce it: "Eee-yorth") after seeing an infomercial for Nubbi Dubbi, a massage mat. Determined to buy a few Nubbi Dubbis, the aliens land and immediately meet Luis. In their own comical way, they help Luis stand up to the bully and manage to fool the principal of Luis' school and the wicked Ms. Diekendaker (Lea Thompson) -- who works for Family Services and seeks to separate Luis from his eccentric and perhaps irresponsible father. But things take a bad turn when the aliens are discovered, and Luis must find a way not only to get the aliens back into space with their Nubbi Dubbis, but also to prove his father right about the existence of aliens and avoid being taken to a foster home.
Is it any good?
This animated tale revels in the kind of humor that made SpongeBob SquarePants and Captain Underpants so popular for younger kids. Any deeper messages Luis and the Aliens attempts to make about father-son relationships, the challenges tweens face in growing up, and accepting those who are different get lost in the noise of loud burping, slapstick cartoon violence, and aliens obsessed with an infomercial for a massage mat. That said, the enjoyment of the movie is entirely dependent on how much one enjoys potty humor. Younger kids will most likely love the goofy aliens and some of the jokes, but the humor becomes less funny the older the audience gets.
The story itself is enjoyable enough: a tween coming-of-age story combined with a story of stranded aliens who need to get back home. The infomercial for the massage mat that inspires the aliens to visit Earth has some funny moments. It's very silly, overall. But Luis is also on the verge of being sent to a foster home because it's believed that his alien-obsessed father is unable to be responsible enough to take care of him, especially in the aftermath of the untimely passing of Luis' mother. There's obviously nothing silly about that, especially for kids who have experienced anything similar to Luis' family situation. It's difficult to balance the serious issues of growing up with the silliness of blobby aliens raving about massage mats whose dials "go up to 11," and instead of the two opposites working together, they just get in each other's way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about animated features with aliens. How does Luis and the Aliens compare to other alien movies you've seen? Why are alien tales so popular?
How does the movie address topics like bullying, fitting in, and the challenges of living in a single-parent household when that parent is deemed "weird" by others in the neighborhood?
What's the appeal of potty humor? Why do many kids find it funny?
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