Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
Voices of Gary Oldman (General Grawl)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Captain Charles T. Baker)
Seann William Scott … Skiff
John Cleese … Professor Kipple
See all »
See all »
|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.