Aliens in the Attic Parent Review

With the potential of being a painful adolescent movie, this little romp has the courage to embrace its campiness and rise slightly above the usual tide of mediocrity.

Overall B-

What's a good vacation without a few surprises? But if the Pearson family thought the arrival of Bethany's (Ashley Tisdale) boyfriend (Robert Hoffman) was unexpected, just wait until they meet the uninvited guests lurking in the attic of their holiday home! These alien visitors may be small, but they have big plans for world domination.

Violence C+
Sexual Content B
Profanity C+
Substance Use A-

Aliens in the Attic is rated PG for action violence, some suggestive humor and language.

Movie Review

Tom Pearson (Carter Jenkins) isn’t thrilled about spending most of his summer in rural Michigan, being held captive on a family vacation with his two sisters, teenaged Bethany (Ashley Tisdale) and younger Hannah (Ashley Boettcher). Ignoring the attitude, Mom and Dad (Gillian Vigman and Kevin Nealon) do their best to keep things upbeat during the cramped ride to their rented accommodations: a sprawling old mansion. Before they are even unpacked, the other Pearson’s show up—cousin Jake (Austin Butler) and younger twins Art and Lee (Henri and Regan Young). Then, with a flurry of spinning wheels and dirt, Bethany’s boyfriend Ricky (Robert Hoffman) unexpectedly arrives with a carefully concealed plan to schmooze her parents into letting him stay overnight.

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While the gang stakes out their claims for beds and activities, Bethany immediately dons a tiny bikini and happily lures the hormonally charged Ricky toward the swimming pool with more sensuality than necessary. In turn, Tom and Jake hide in the bushes with a paintball gun aimed at Ricky’s private parts. Unfortunately, the resulting hits only gain the scheming, older boy even more sympathy from the trusting adults and more opportunities for him to secretly harass the teenaged boys.

When Grandma Pearson (Doris Roberts) announces the satellite television is on the blink, the shenanigans move to the rooftop. Locked out by Ricky, Tom and Jake discover the dish is in multiple pieces. No sooner do they wonder how that happened when they meet what the audience paid to see—four little green aliens. During a skirmish on the roof, the pair is shot with small darts from the creatures’ weapons, but they don’t seem to be harmed.

Ricky, who comes out to see what is taking so long, isn’t so lucky. After being hit in the back of the neck, the aliens take over his mind and body using a video game-like controller. Now manipulating the humanoid to carry out their commands, the Pearsons have an even bigger battle on their hands. Although the kids manage to lock their unwanted visitors in the attic—they know this won’t be the end of the battle.

The ensuing action will deliver much of what you would expect within this genre. Along with goofy slapstick violence, there are still more kicks and injuries to the groin. Tom, who already lied to his parents about his school performance, also convinces the others to keep the adults in the dark (in order to protect them), and fight the aliens by themselves. This decision results in continuing deceptions and cover-ups.

Yet, with the potential of being a painful adolescent movie, this little romp has the courage to embrace its campiness and rise slightly above the usual tide of mediocrity. The tiny aliens are vulnerable themselves, making things a bit more interesting. And while I tire of seeing silly battle scenes, actor Robert Hoffman delivers a very skilled performance while under the spell of the alien device. With a flip of a switch he freezes in place or is forced to put his body into a number of contortions. As well, the script offers a few funny moments.

Parents will likely appreciate that Tom’s father isn’t the typical, stupid movie parent. He confronts his son about his dishonesty in the early scenes, and continues to question the kids’ behavior. These positives help to outweigh some of the noted negatives, however we would have liked these aliens a whole lot more without these unnecessary additions.

Starring Ashley Tisdale, Robert Hoffman, Doris Roberts. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release July 31, 2009. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Aliens in the Attic here.

Aliens in the Attic Parents Guide

What are the two different strategies Tom and his cousin Jake have for tackling the aliens? Is one better than the other? How are these varying viewpoints a reflection of the personal pastimes of each of the teens?

Throughout the movie, Tom struggles with his self-image. How does he respond to the expectations of his peers and cousins? What negative stereotypes does he war with? What does he learn about himself during his battle with the space creatures? How does it affect the relationship he has with his father?