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Movie Review

Planet 51 a.k.a. “Planeta 51,” “Planète 51,” “Planéta 51,” “Planeetta 51,” “Planet One,” “Planitis 51: Episkeptis apo ti Gi,” “Planitis 51: Episkeptis apo ti gi”

MPAA Rating: PG for mild sci-fi action and some suggestive humor.

Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Genre:
Animation, Sci-Fi, Family, Adventure, Satire, Comedy, Alien
Length:
_____
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
November 20, 2009 (wide—2,600+ theaters)
DVD: March 9, 2010
Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment
Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer

Are we alone in the universe? Answer

Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer

Questions and Answers about The Origin of Life

Featuring: Voices of Gary Oldman (General Grawl), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Captain Charles T. Baker), Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Seann William Scott (Skiff), John Cleese (Professor Kipple), Freddie Benedict, Alan Marriott, Mathew Horne, James Corden, Lewis Macleod, Rupert Degas, Rebecca Front, Vincent Marzello, Emma Tate, Pete Atkin, Laurence Bouvard, Brian Bowles
Director: Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad, Marcos Martinez
Producer: Ilion Animation, HandMade Films, Antena 3 Films, Thomas D. Adelman, Guy Collins, Ignacio Pérez Dolset, Mercedes Gamero, Ricardo García Arrojo, Peter D. Graves, Albie Hecht, Stephen Margolis, Albert Martinez Martin, Patrick Meehan, Javier Pérez Dolset, Juan Antonio Pérez Ramírez, Mercedes Rey, Jose A. Rodriguez, Jose A. Rodriguez, Michael Ryan
Distributor: New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Brothers Entertainment

“Something strange is coming to their planet… Us!”

The premise of PLANET 51 is great. What if you take E.T. and the numerous alien invasion movies of the 50s and turn them on their head? What if, instead of E.T. phoning home, it is our astronaut who is caught on an alien planet trying to get home? What if the monster movies of the 50s were reversed, and we were the monsters from whom the aliens flee in panic? Alas, a great premise does not always make a great movie.

PLANET 51 shows promise and is by no means a bad film but is marred by humor that is far too crude and underdeveloped. Made by Ilion Animation, this movie lacks the character development, sentiment, humor, and charm that makes Pixar films work so well. The characters are but cardboard cuts-outs, and the film contains a great deal of crude humor which families will not want their young children watching. It has become an all too common tactic to bring in adult audiences, but it quite frankly is more akin to teenage bathroom humor—not true adult humor.

The most offensive joke involves sticking a cork inside your buttocks to prevent “probing.” That joke reoccurs several times and is certainly not something any parent would want to explain to his children, although that is preferable to NOT having to explain the joke (which unfortunately, many parents will probably not have to do). Another crude anatomical joke takes place when the astronaut stands up and is apparently naked. The aliens (including a female alien) observes “that is a funny place for an antennae.” Still many other jokes include comments that “brains are for breakfast, eyeballs and organs are for dinner,” jokes about “pooping jellybeans,” “fake alien poop,” fart jokes, “mate with me,” an oil puddle substitutes for urine, as does an acid peeing alien pet which is clearly fashioned after the “Alien” movies. In another scene, a brain is shown on a table which has apparently been removed from one of the lesser characters in the film.

Ignoring the moral elements of the film, PLANET 51 still fails to live up to its premise. It is at times overly preachy and New Age in theme. The element of alien life and the “insignificance” of the human race comes into play on several occasions.

Now. the animation is of good quality. and the voice acting by names like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman, and John Cleese are fine. The movie can certainly entertain at times, but it frankly needed a rewrite—not so much in terms of plot, but in the substance of the script. Perhaps the director was, in part, to blame, for I never found myself caring about most of the characters in the same way that I felt empathy for the characters in Pixar’s “Up.” Were the actors live, rather than animated, I would have said that they just plodded their way through the story with no emotion or feeling.

It is not a bad film and perhaps worth a look on DVD, but as a family-oriented reviewer, I cannot recommend this for small children at all. It is a disappointing showing for a film I was strongly looking forward to. Perhaps that disappointment left a bad taste in my mouth, for this is certainly better than other releases I have seen lately, but the potty humor was far too excessive, and there was no emotion of feeling in the characters. In the right hands, this could have been a terrific movie, but, as is, it is a decent movie rental—nothing more.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I read the reviews on this Web site before taking my 2 children to see this movie, all of which were negative/offensive. I made the choice, based on the listed offenses to give the movie a try anyway. I am a Christian woman who monitors everything my kids watch. We do not do scary, sexual or violent films at all. I was in no way offended by this film!!! Yes, there were 4 scenes that contained slightly crude adult humor, but none were horribly offensive as the reviews claim.

I thought the movie was funny and it did have a good story line that ended with lives and views about discrimination that were changed through the lessons learned. Lem, a 16 year old boy learns to stand up for what he believes in no matter the cost and in the end he is rewarded.

As far as biblical content goes, there really was none other than the idea of not discriminating those people who are different, but the movie is not a Christian film, it is a movie about aliens. If you are comfortable allowing your children to watch movies with “make believe” story lines, this movie should be fine. Children see scenes and hear language everyday on tv commercials that are far more offensive than they will see in this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—joy, age 39 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—First, I would like to say that I respect the reviewer’s opinion and that of the other posters, but I don’t agree 100% percent with them. I do agree that there are a couple of objectionable things in this movie that should not be in a family-friendly movie aimed at general audiences (the cork-in-the-rear gag and the “funny place for an antenna” gag, in regard to the astronaut’s “unmentionable” area, but these 2 or 3 scenes are minimal and can be easily censored out when the movie comes out on DVD by hitting fast-forward), but, overall, the movie is very positive in the fact that this 16-year-old alien kid risks everything including his job and his girlfriend to help this human from Earth who is a total stranger, just like Jesus risked it all to save us from our sins when he died on the cross.

And as for any New Age content, I didn’t see any, it’s just a silly, cartoony satire of science fiction and 1950s/1960s American politics and society. This film also shows how foolish prejudice can be and the characters who felt this way redeemed themselves by the end. Also the potty humor is actually very minimal compared to other animated movies. I personally did not see any glorification of any un-christian behavior whatsoever. Just my humble opinion.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mike, age 29 (USA)
Neutral—This movie wasn’t good nor bad. It was just another sad attempt at pushing the bar in animation. The movie had a good plot and some good morals at the end, but I would have to agree with the reviewer that there was WAY too much potty humor. As the reviewer above has mentioned, there were some questionable scenes such as the naked astronaut, the probing, etc. Hollywood, this is uncalled for. Once is okay, anymore and its just not appropriate. I just wonder why Hollywood and filmmakers are trying so hard on the humor, and not the ACTUAL material of the movie itself. A PG movie doesn’t have to have this type of potty humor. There wasn’t a lot to be offended by, but by no means do I condone what has been mentioned. My advice? An okay movie, but as the reviewer says, one that people should wait for the DVD for.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Alex, age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This movie had way too many sexual and adult connotations for children to watch. From mentioning butt plugs repeatedly, to calling male genitals an “antennae,” to the “mate with me” and “make out” comments. I DO NOT recommend this movie for children. There were funny parts, but too much poor taste in humor ruined the experience for me. This movie could have been excellent without the crude jokes. I’d recommend “Up” or “Cars” instead for some positive, clean humor.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Sylvia, age 26 (USA)
Negative—I’m very surprised that people missed some of the homosexual overtones promoted in this film.

1. There is a scene early on where the human does not understand what the alien is saying. He tells the alien that he is not sure if the alien is saying that he wants to “mate” with him or not. Granted, young children probably won’t pick up on this, but some of the older kids could.

2. There is another scene where the human is teaching the young alien male how to sweep the young alien girl he likes off her feet. Normally there would be nothing wrong with this but when the human tries to teach him how to kiss the girl he likes, he leans in and tries to kiss the male alien! They are interrupted by the alien’s friend who walks into the room shocked at what he is witnessing. The film makers created an obvious “awkward moment,” drawing attention to the two males about to kiss. Granted, it was NOT a “romantic moment,” but why would the film makers want to place the possibility of two males kissing into the minds of young children? This movie had so much potential to be a fantastic cartoon and they ruined it with this filth.

There were other problems with the movie, but others have already commented on it. Parents, do not show this movie to your young children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—George, age 31 (USA)
Negative—I was waiting for this movie for a long time, turned out the movie is very offending …made a mess out of what could be an interesting movie. So many double meanings, sexual innuendo, and crude jokes definitely not for the kids. From the very beginning of the movie two teenage aliens trying to “make out” or do some “parking” the movie goes from awful to worse. You will see many things that usually not in a Disney movie like the alien dog’s over performance (those who see the movie know what it meant) and the exploring robot squashing the funny (possibly friendly) alien frog etc.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cyril Thomas, age 29 (UK)
Negative—I read the reviews for this movie on this Web site and decided not to go see this movie in the theaters, when it was out. My family was disappointed and really wanted to watch it, as they thought the trailers were really good. I took a chance and ended up renting this free from the library when it was available. I noticed that no one in the family laughed as the movie was going along. Most of the jokes seemed like they were written by 13 year old boys and seemed to focus consistently on farting, anal probes, alien dogs wiping their rear ends across the grass, as if they had worms, a dog locking it’s tongue on the astronaut’s butt.

So not only did we not really care anything about any of the characters, we were consistently bombarded with junior high bathroom humor, almost the whole time. The astronaut main character was quite annoying and came across as a self-absorbed buffoon for the majority of the movie. It’s pretty sad overall.

The quality of the animation was pretty good, and I think this movie could have had a lot more potential, if they had a better script, fired the junior-high comedy crew and hired one that had actually watched and studied the complex and more mature type of comedy Pixar normally incorporates into their movies and spent more time better developing the characters.

As a person that really likes animated movies, I was really disappointed in this one and will not be buying it for our home movie collection.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Mike K, age 41 (USA)
Negative—The reviewer missed quite a bit when they picked out the offensive content in the movie “Planet 51.” No where did they mention about the character discussing his acting experience, and the fact that he felt like he did a better job at performing as a suppository rather than a toothbrush. They, also, did not list the running joke about the character sharing a cork with the lead character because they would be “probed” by the alien, and this cork was for protection. This humor is so offensive; we contacted the theatre and studio to complain about the rating; the humor is PG-13 stuff. We were sorry we took our child to see this movie; it should be avoided by parents.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Lori, age 50 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—I DO NOT RECOMMEND SEEING THIS MOVIE. The very first scene is of a battle—which turns out to be a movie. There are some funny moments, but some that would be offensive to people. I thought Dwayne Johnson did a great job, but the end of the was movie actually REALLY creepy. The aliens put the human on a table, and attempted to take out his brain with a large spinning blade. (He was saved.) Then they showed 2 aliens’ floating brains, and they had bandages around their heads. I actually found Twilight less scary. You should not waste your money on this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Riley, age 13 (USA)
Positive—I would first like to say, that as the other positive viewer stated I read the review before viewing the movie, and I saw the movie anyway. I think that the movie was acceptable for all ages some of the slightly objectionable content will go right over young viewer’s heads. Overall, I thought this was a fun movie which all members of the family can enjoy.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jeffrey, age 13 (Australia)
Positive—I and my family enjoyed it. Yes, some adult humor was evident during the movie, but it was not over the top in my opinion. There were plenty of things kids could laugh at, too. This is my message to parents that are contemplating letting their kids see this movie, “Go ahead. Trust me, there have been worse PG movies with more inuendo and embarrasing scenes.” You can preview it if you want to, but really nothing is anti-family about “Planet 51.” One more thing, PG means, “Parental Guidance Suggested.” Too many people think of that rating as G. It doesn’t.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emily, age 12 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
We walked out of this movie, although we had seen most of it. If you care for your children, don’t take them to this. It seems a bunch of perverts wrote it. There was a long, drawn-out reference to anal probing and plugging one’s butt to prevent it. We thought, “Well, that’s terrible, but maybe there won’t be more like it.” There wasn’t anything huge for a while after that, but then there was a reference to a teenager getting plastic surgery, and a brother-sister relationship (now I know that was a reference to Luke Skywalker).

The last straw for us was when the human astronaut stood up in front of alien children and his towel fell off (he’d been on an examining table or something like that) and one of the alien children made a reference to his genitals. I can’t believe the reviewer thinks this movie would be okay for any Christian, even as a rental. Although the cinematics—quality of animation—were great, it is not a movie I’d go to if I had known what was going to be said. Too bad I assumed it was going to be fine based on the commercials, and didn’t come check it out here first!
—Alex, age 39 (USA)