Starring Carter Jenkins, Austin Robert Butler and Ashley Tisdale. Voiced by Thomas Haden Church, Josh Peck, Ashley Peldon, Karl Wahlgren Directed by John Schultz. 86mins.
Rated PG (mild violence and themes).
Believe it or not, it is coming close to 30 years since ET was made. Here is a small, low-budget variation on the theme, designed for family audiences and for children who have not become too caught up in Transformers-like holiday shows.
After spending perhaps too much time establishing the Pearson family, with 15 year old Tom being bullied for because he is intelligent and his trying to show that he is not, and 17 year old Bethany doting on dumb hunk, Rick, we go off on a fishing holiday with them where they are joined by their uncle and cousins who tend to dominate. So, the scene is set.
Noises upstairs reveal four aliens (tiny in size but large in aggressive attitudes, except for a cute little fellow who is the brains of the group). Plenty of comedy and slapstick as the kids pursue the aliens and the aliens attack the kids. The aliens can't take possession of kids but can robotise adults with a machine (which the kids find and use to their advantage, especially robotising Rick). The kids keep this all a secret from their parents and have to devise different ways of covering up, especially with the local sheriff intervening.
Nothing particularly startling but it is an undemanding holiday show that should keep undiscriminating children amused for an hour and a half. Parents who liked the TV series, Everybody Loves Raymond, should pop in later in the film to see Doris Roberts (Raymond's mother) play grandmother who is taken over and is able to do all kinds of martial arts techniques, leaps and kicks, in battling Rick. Robert Hoffman deserves an acknowledgement for his being a good sport in portraying Rick as a loathsome two-timing jock and allowing himself to spend a lot of time as absolutely inane because the kids have robotised him!
20th Century Fox Out September 3rd 2009
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.