Spanish videogamer Jorge Blanco directs his debut, a passable PG-rated animated sci-fi comedy, with co-directors Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez. Joe Stillman (two “Shrek”’s and “Beavis & Butt-Head Do America”) writes a snarky tale rife with references to flying-saucer films. The third installment of the alien-invader film franchise is about to open on the planet Glipforg when American astronaut Captain Chuck Baker (Dwayne Johnson) lands. Planting the U.S. flag on what NASA identifies as uninhabited Planet 51, he interrupts a backyard barbeque. On the run from General Grawl (Gary Oldman), Buck finds an ally in Lem (Justin Long), the 16 year-old Junior Assistant Planetarium Curator who’s failing to impress girl-next-door Neera (Jessica Biel.) The planet is set in the 1950’s, with long-haired protest singer- guitarist Glar (Alan Marriott) driving a VW bus. Indigenous pop culture is full of mind-control conspiracy paranoia. The human alien, though, can hide in an alien look-alike contest at the premiere of “Humaniacs III.” Twix candy bars are out of place, as are gags about plugs to block anal probes by aliens. Cutest behavior belongs to the robot dog Rover, modeled on the moon and Mars rovers. This frantic jokey fare is engineered to distract kids and their handlers alike. Music quips go from “Macarena” to “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” With more voices by Seann William Scott, John Cleese Freddie Benedict, Alan Marriott, Mathew Horne and James Corden. (Bill Stamets)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.