In-Flight Entertainment: Aliens in the Attic

By Jason Lee

December 6, 2009

I'm a big High School Musical star! It wasn't supposed to be like this!

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Stale pretzels and lukewarm sodas aside, in-flight movies provide a great opportunity for you to catch up on some of films that you didn't get to see while they were in theaters. Besides, what else are you going to do during your flight? Stare at the seat in front of you?

BOP's newest column, In-Flight Entertainment, brings you the movies now playing at a cruising altitude of 45,000 miles in the air. So put your tray table up, buckle your safety belt, and let's go.

Now Playing on select Eastbound American Airline flights in early December: Aliens in the Attic

American Airlines regularly plays a great deal of television programming during their flights – I can't tell you how many episodes of The Office I've seen while sitting in coach class. Movies have their place on American's in-flight televisions, but TV is pretty much their main staple. As such, it would be understandable for any recent passenger on an American Airlines flight to have assumed that they were watching a made-for-TV kids movie whilst immersed in 20th Century Fox's most recent family film, Aliens in the Attic.

The film certainly carries with it a number of key characteristics of a made-for-TV kids movie. Over-acting child actors? Check. Dunderhead parents? Check. Token tween star? Check. Cheesy plot in which kids have to save the world? Check.


The movie follows Tom (played by Carter Jenkins, a 17-year-old actor more known for his episodic TV work), a high-school nerd trying to shed his brainiac persona. In other words, Tom is your typical socially-maligned protagonist that allows pre-teen viewers to see the character and say, "Hey, he's misunderstood at school and I'm misunderstood at school! He's just like me – I'm gonna root for him!"

Tom is stuck in the family version of purgatory, trapped at a vacation home with his moronic parents, his lovelorn sister, her conniving beau, his doddering grandmother and three other cousins. While trying to fix the home's rooftop antenna, he stumbles across a group of four pint-sized aliens, who he learns were sent as an advance party to prepare for an impending alien invasion.

The aliens are fixated on trying to acquire a "weapon" buried beneath the house that will allow them to fulfill their invasion plans. To this end, they wield mind-control devices that allow them to control any human adult . . . but alas, this technology is useless against kids. Apparently, it's up to Tom and his ragtag team of relatives to defend earth against froggy, gremlin-like aliens with mind-control guns.

What ensues is a marginally-comedic series of events as the teens take inspiration from Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, utilizing household props and kid-ingenuity to try and prevent the aliens from reaching the basement. The adults in the movie get marginally involved with the story, but their activities do little than to establish that our little rascals are not actually home alone. With stars like Kevin Nealon, Doris Roberts, Tim Meadows playing the father, grandmother and police officer respectively, you'd think that director John Schultz could have found more for them to do.

This is a pretty harmless, kid-friendly flick. It doesn't have bad words, it contains no drug references, and the mind-control gimmick in the film is used to create a couple of fight sequences that will likely have your ten-year old boy enraptured - but no more so than your typical kids cable TV special. My recommendation is that if you're stuck on a plane, you're better off getting some shut eye and TiVoing a couple of hours of the Disney Channel than spending your flight watching this innocuous-but-decidedly-unentertaining movie.

Rating: 1 1/2 stars.



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