The twist? The alien is NASA astronaut Captain Charles T. Baker and Lem is a little green man from a planet far, far away.
“Planet 51” is rated PG for mild sci-fi action and some suggestive humor.
Along the way they do a lot of the movie parodies that you would expect. There are several “E.T.” jokes, “Star Wars” jokes, and more. And as you’ve seen in the ads, the dogs are actually Giger Aliens that pee acid. If you’re a fan of sci-fi movies, there’s something in here that will make you chuckle. Adults will also catch jokes about everything from “Singing in the Rain” to Area 51.
One of the breakout characters of the movie is a robotic rover named… Rover. It acts like a dog and is on an unending quest to collect rocks (ala Scrat and acorns in “Ice Age”). What’s amusing is he’s so focused on the rocks that he ignores the alien life around him. He races around like a puppy and usually steals whatever scene he’s in. When he’s paired with the alien dog, it’s one of the funniest moments in the movie.
What Didn’t Work:
I think one big mistake the creators made was making the alien planet simply an alien version of an American 50’s era small town. The aliens have cars, TV’s, comic book stores, normal clothes, etc. all just like humans, but with a slightly alien twist. It’s kind of like Bedrock in “The Flinstones” where everything is familiar, but made with stones or dinosaurs. I think they missed a golden opportunity to do something truly alien and outrageous that would have been more visually appealing. The movie also loses steam as soon as Baker takes his helmet off and starts speaking English with Lem. I think it would have been a lot more interesting if he popped his helmet off and simply started babbling unintelligibly, thus leaving Lem to try and interpret what the heck he was saying. It might have been funnier, but they wouldn’t have had Dwayne Johnson as a star.
I really love all these voice actors. Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, and Gary Oldman are all actors I enjoy watching. But they didn’t bring anything particularly unique to their characters with their voice performances. You could have pretty much put any actor in those roles and it wouldn’t have made much difference. The only exception is John Cleese as Professor Kipple. He’s the only one with a voice that really stands out in the animation.
The CG animation itself is a tad bland, too. The alien designs aren’t really unique. They’re green blobs. There are a couple of amusing visual gags in the background of the comic book store (some familiar looking comic covers) and the observatory (a map that shows ‘Beer Island’), but otherwise it’s nothing special. This is a movie that might have benefited from the 3-D treatment to spice things up.
I’ll also mention that a couple of the jokes were a tad ‘ick’. Skiff repeatedly offers Lem a cork to plug his butt in case the aliens try to anally probe him. Skiff also offers him a used one. So… ew. I guess that’s the ‘suggestive humor’ the rating warns about.
The Bottom Line: