Planet 51

Underwhelming alien comedy has some suggestive humor.
  • Review Date: November 10, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

Much of the positive stuff is secondary to the suggestive humor, but Lem and his friends do work together to help Chuck, and Chuck learns to trust the aliens, despite his initial hesitation.

Positive role models

Some characters are less than admirable, but Lem and Neera are positive role models: Lem takes a risk to trust Chuck, and Neera believes in peaceful protest to enact change.

Violence & scariness

An alien general and soldiers try to take down the American astronaut with military weapons and guns. An alien doctor is after Chuck's brain -- for scientific reasons, of course...

Sexy stuff

"Parking" aliens talk about how it's their first time "parking" (i.e. kissing in car). Two alien adolescents flirt with each other and eventually kiss. A female alien with robust cleavage gets angry at a male alien who's staring at her. A character makes repeated references to alien "probes" and how to discourage them. The astronaut tries to teach an alien how to romance "chicks." After seeing the astronaut naked (he drops his towel for a second, but the audience doesn't see anything), an alien jokes "that's a funny place for an antenna."


Mild language includes "what the...," "moron," and "stupid." There's also crass humor that includes commentary about  "chicks," "alien probes," and a  penis joke (the alien thinks it's an "antenna").


Twix candy bars, Sea Monkeys, and Volkswagen are recognizable/discussed brands. There's also an iPod-looking device and many obvious references to other movies.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this animated alien comedy earns its PG rating with a fair bit of sexualized humor -- including jokes about anal probing and penises which may go over younger kids' head (though middle schoolers won't be duped -- in fact, they'll probably find it hilarious). There's also some mostly mild violence -- though weapons are involved -- as the alien army attempts to capture and subdue a human astronaut (voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), as well as references to a maniacal doctor's desire to suck out Chuck's brain for scientific reasons. The language is mostly tame ("moron" and "stupid"), if disrespectful; beyond the sometimes-crude jokes, the sexuality revolves around one character's infatuation with another, which culminates in a kiss. Despite taking place on another planet, there are a few brands featured in the movie, including Volkswagen, Twix, and iPods.

What's the story?

On a distant planet that's exactly like an idealized version of 1950s America but inhabited by green aliens, adolescent Lem (voiced by Justin Long) works at a planetarium and spends his time hanging out with his best friend Skiff (Seann William Scott) and pining over his pretty neighbor Neera (Jessica Biel). When NASA astronaut Chuck Baker (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) lands on the planet, he's astounded to realize that there's already life on Planet 51 -- and that all the "aliens" speak and understand English and enjoy the diners, muscle cars, drive-ins, and B-movies reminiscent of the '50s. Unfortunately for Chuck, the most popular movie is about a "humaniac alien" that turns everyone into brainwashed zombies, so the planet's military tries to hunt Chuck down. But Lem and his pals strike up a friendship with Chuck and agree to help him get back to Earth before he's captured, studied, and imprisoned.

Is it any good?


Even if you take Pixar's incredibly sophisticated, high-grossing movies out of the running as a comparison, PLANET 51 is uninspired and forgettable. The movie's animation (particularly the landscape backgrounds) is flat, the dialogue is overly cluttered with pop culture references (to everything from The Right Stuff and E.T. to The Terminator and the Macarena). Allusions and double entendres work when they're seamlessly woven into a family-friendly script (as in the Shrek movies), but the lame penis and anal probing jokes are just off-putting in Planet 51.

Young kids may be drawn to the alien characters, especially comic book-obsessed Skiff and the dog-like creature that has toxic pee and a penchant for terrorizing the local mail carrier. And adults may get a laugh or two out of Neera's suitor Glar (Alan Marriott), a VW-van-driving, guitar-playing hippie who protests the planet's violent reaction to Chuck. But Johnson, who has proven he's a surprisingly talented family movie star, isn't given much to work with as the cocky astronaut, and Lem and Neera's "romance" is only slightly amusing when Lem goes to Chuck for dating advice. Ultimately, if you're hankering for '50s nostalgia, check out Back to the Future -- and for animated alien comedies, stick with Monsters vs. Aliens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie plays on the media's standard jokes about and portrayal of aliens. Who is the "real" alien in Planet 51? How do the movies and comic books that characters read on Planet 51 affect the way its population reacts to Chuck?

  • What purpose do all of the pop culture references -- particularly to well-known movies -- serve? Is it funny? Is it original?

  • To what kind of movies is Planet 51 an homage? How are the '50s portrayed?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 20, 2009
DVD release date:March 9, 2010
Cast:Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Gary Oldman, Jessica Biel, Justin Long
Director:Jorge Blanco
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Space and aliens
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild sci-fi action and some suggestive humor

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byChristian_girl March 11, 2010
age 12+

Funny when it's clean

I had been waiting to see this movie since I heard about it. Mom knew this and rented it for the family to watch together. I hit play thinking, "Boy, I can't wait to see a good clean PG-rated movie!" HA! I don't like the direction the media has been taking with, well, with everything! I'm sick and tired of putting in a PG or even G-rated movie and it being dirtier than a PG-13 movie I saw the night before. This movie had such potential. It was hilarious besides the adult jokes in a movie meant for 7-year-olds. I don't even think adults should hear those jokes. I don't really care so much whether or not a movie's original, as long as it's good. I'm easily amused anyway. I'm one of those people who can last a year on a piece of string. So rarely do I give anything 3 stars unless it just makes me upset. Hollywood, stop making dirty kid's movies! You're infesting and twisting the minds of every child, no, person on earth! It's even getting in MY head. I still count as a kid, you know. I don't know if I want the DVD or not anymore. Besides all that, this movie wasn't the best I've seen in a while, but it was still good. My advice, buy Veggietales movies. They're Christian, kid-safe comedy that's so funny, I'll watch them if I live to be 200 years old.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written bytobewunaskwun March 15, 2010
age 16+

This One Could've Been Fun

This could've been a fun, family movie, but they really blew it with all the double entendre and several positively unsettling moments in the movie. It starts out with a couple of alien teens "parking" in the moonlight. Also, watch out for the remark later about the "duck". Worst of all, when the American astronaut stands up from an operating room table and his only clothing, a towel, falls off, nothing is shown, but a completely tasteless, tacky and vulgar remark is made. (I'm sure that was supposed to be a big laugh moment, but it was so over-the-top out of place, we just sat there in stunned silence.) This movie had it's moments and was cute around the edges and may be o.k. for older teens, much older, but it is no kids movie. I repeat, IT IS NO KIDS MOVIE!!! I won't take the time to discuss what could've possibly been the underlying political-social-spiritual themes implied by the abundance of head-in-the sand aliens, (aliens to us,) who thought that their small "five hundred miles" broad universe revolved around them. (The producers of this movie seem to be very unhappy about the idea of traditionalism and listening to your parents.) It's such a shame that you can't watch a PG cartoon with your children these days. We will not buy the blu ray!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Kid, 12 years old March 30, 2015
age 7+


Do not watch this movie! It is horrible, almost plotless, and bland


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