Aliens in the Attic was originally titled They Came from Upstairs, which would be a cool title for a movie attempting to be a throwback to silly B-movie alien pictures from decades past. Alas, this film is not trying to be such a throwback, but rather an insipid bit of lazy filmmaking that mistakes silliness for comedy and young moviegoers for morons. In that case, I suppose this new title works better.
The movie is literally so by-the-book that it barely merits any real discussion. The title pretty much sums it up quite tidily -- aliens have invaded the summer getaway of the unsuspecting Pearson family, and their home base is in the attic. Why did they go there? Why, because the title dictates they must! Why have they come? To fulfill some random planet-domination prophecy, of course! If you've seen one kooky children's alien movie, you've seen one that Aliens in the Attic steals from and pretends never existed. There is no purpose for this premise to take place, no shred of interesting backstory or reason for the pending invasion -- it happens merely because, somehow, the idea was seen as filmable. In reality, a straightforward coming-of-age flick called Pearson Family Vacation could wring more interesting drama from this group of people than any CGI aliens ever could. Article continues below
The story: A group of floppy-haired young boy cousins unwittingly discovers some of the least cute balls of animated alien muck the cinema has ever seen. The leading man is Tom (Carter Jenkins), a teen genius who gets bad grades on purpose, because he wants to be cool. He, of course, must utilize his brains to devise an attack plan against his alien foes. His co-leader is cousin Jake (Austin Butler), a lazy, spoiled bum, but one whose killer instinct kicks into action when faced with alien peril. Two younger, similarly cute male sidekicks use their video game prowess to fight the invaders. Meanwhile, the youngest Pearson, Hannah (Ashley Boettcher), clings to her sock monkey and bonds with the smallest, cutest of the aliens (who, you might have guessed, is secretly a good guy) and the eldest, Bethany (Ashley Tisdale, the movie's biggest kid-audience draw), walks around in swimsuits in hormonal rage looking for her Abercrombie boyfriend, whose mind has been taken over by the aliens. Could this plot get any thicker?
I could go on at length about how the movie showcases only young males in the heroic roles while relegating the females to sexist caricatures. It would be similarly tempting to go off on a critical tangent about the filmmakers' uncomfortable fascination with Tisdale's bikini-clad body. But the movie lacks a functioning brain, so those criticisms are merely offshoots of pointless, mindless farce. Instead, let's talk about these aliens. They are, at most, two feet tall. How do they pose a threat to a group of five-foot humans? Forget their "high-tech weaponry" and "futuristic mind control," these kids could get prehistoric on the punks and just squish them with their feet. Would that be too gross for a children's movie? Certainly not this one, which has no problem depicting a wannabe-suave twenty-something as a lying, cheating, cradle-robbing sex fiend.
For the record, the movie does contain one (1) funny moment. When the cradle-robbing sex fiend falls victim to the alien mind control, he operates at the mercy of a remote control-type device that dictates his every move. He is a physical and vocal puppet of whoever operates the remote. The film's hero steals the device and stops to have a little fun before going to work against the aliens. He marches the guy into the kitchen and has him say to a group of baffled parents, "Could you pick me up some adult diapers? These are almost full!" Maybe it's funnier on screen than it is on paper.