[REVIEW] A Fun Time on Planet 51

Planet 51 (Rated: PG)
Directed by: Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad, Marcos Martínez
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Seann William Scott, Gary Oldman, John Cleese

Planet 51 takes the aliens-have-landed genre and throws it in reverse.  This time, it’s an American astronaut landing on an unsuspecting alien world – a world which just happens to be at the height of their version of the 1950s, complete with “human invasion” movies.  Astronaut Chuck Baker, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, was expecting a barren planet.  Now, pursued by the army and surrounded by aliens who think he’s going to turn them to zombies, he’s dependent on teenager Lem (Justin Long) and his friends to get him back to his ship so he can go home.

I sat down and watched Planet 51 with the whole family.  My wife and I enjoyed the cultural references packed into the script – jokes which largely went over our kids’ heads.  Some of those references will be missed by most anyone under thirty, including a recurring (and pivotal) usage of the phrase “the right stuff.” My kids – ranging in age from 4 to 11 – all enjoyed the film.  There’s more than enough physical comedy and crazy antics to keep the kids entertained.  In fact, my 4- and 7-year-old have watched the film every day for the past six days!  My 9-year-old gave it “two thumbs up,” and my wife said it was “cute and fun.”

Mixed in with the fun is a story with a moral – we shouldn’t fear the unknown.  It’s a good lesson, and it’s presented in a way that’s accessible.  It’s not going to win any awards, but all in all, Planet 51 is entertaining and fun, exactly what you expect from a family film.  I’m not certain that I agree with the PG rating; we’ve got G movies on our shelf which have scarier scenes or deal with heavier issues.  Still, if you’ve got kids in grade school, this is one DVD worth picking up – just make sure you take time to enjoy it with them!

Your Daddy Time: Worth It or Wasted? Worth it! 3/5 stars

The opinions presented in this review are those of Ben Martin, who received no compensation for the review beyond the complimentary review copies of the title mentioned.

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