In case you missed the movies Planet 1 through Planet 50, let me get you up to speed: Planet 51 is a sequel/remake of every animated movie involving aliens to come out before. It’s full of snarky pop culture references, slapstick gags for the kiddies and hammy performances from likely overpaid voice actors.
That said, it’s a rockin’ good time, particularly with the knowledge that you’re missing out on the sparkle motion vampire extravaganza in the next auditorium over, packed with squealing tween girls of all ages.
Just like Monsters vs. Aliens the movie is a silly social satire and vintage B-movie takeoff involving an alien invasion of a 1950s town. And just like The Battle for Terra and the forthcoming Avatar, the premise is about clueless humans invading a peaceful planet.
Dwayne don’t-call-me-the-Rock-no-more Johnson voices Captain Baker, the bumbling astronaut who terrorizes the planet of Shrek/Ork-like inhabitants by thinking he’s conquered it. Awkward teen Lem (Justin Long), who’s harboring a hopeless crush on the girl next door, Neera (Jessica Biel), and his pals work to protect Baker from the planet’s government, which aims to capture him and dissect his brain. Not that they’d find anything inside if they opened up his head.
Planet 51 doesn’t belong anywhere near the best animated picture race, but you can do a lot worse when looking for a family flick to pass the time. Its lack of silly vampire tropes is also a plus, and yet another bonus is you’ll probably have the theater to yourself, since everyone else will be flocking to the blockbuster du jour.
Starring the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long and Gary Oldman. Written by Joe Stillman. Directed by Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez . Rated PG. 91 minutes.