ADVENTURE COMEDY; 1hr 26min
STARRING: Ashley Tisdale, Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler
Gross encounter of the third kind: rear from left, Jenkins and Butler
Family vacations can be tortuous enough without extraterrestrials crash-landing on the roof, which is what befalls the Pearson kids. The four invaders (voiced by J.K. Simmons, Thomas Haden Church, Kari Wahlgren and Josh Peck) are lumpy, homely, aggro and short. And since their mind-control doodad doesn’t work on children, it’s up to 15-year-old Tom (Jenkins), his little sister Hannah (Ashley Boettcher), his cousin Nate (Butler) and Nate’s twin brothers Art and Lee (Henri and Regan Young) to outwit the uglies. As Tom’s elder sister Bethany, Tisdale is an Ashley-come-lately, who, for most of the piece, is in too much of a tizz over her alien-controlled boyfriend (Robert Hoffman) to clock the mass strangeness.
Logically speaking, the odds of juveniles besting ETs in a global invasion aren’t great. But that’s the lie of the land with these fun and games. It doesn’t hurt the Pearsons’ cause — or the movie’s — that the animated creepies aren’t always on the money and that there is dissension in their ranks. Their crabby nature is acerbic fun but for the most part; this skirmish is strictly for kids.