Monday, December 30, 2013

Escape from Planet Earth

Directed by Cal Brunker.
2013. Rated PG, 89 minutes.
Brendan Fraser
Jonathan Morgan Heit
Paul Scheer

Scorch Supernova (Fraser) is the most famous astronaut/explorer/hero on Planet Baab. His devil-may-care attitude has gotten him into a lot of tight spots. Luckily for him, his brother Gary (Corddry) works back at Mission Control and always knows what to do to get him out of a jam. Of cours, there is no glory for running the show almost anonymously from your desk. Accolades are reserved for the star of the show. Gary is also a good judge of what missions might be too dangerous. Scorch is give one such assignment and decides to accept it against his brother’s better judgement. When Gary expresses his concern, the powers that be shout him down. Frustrated, he quits his job. However, after learning that Scorch has indeed been captured on “The Dark Planet,” Gary sneaks into a spaceship and takes off in hopes of rescuing his brother. If you couldn’t tell by the movie’s title, “The Dark Planet” is Earth.

The flip side of all those alien invasion flicks plays out. Almost. What if we were the bad guys in the close encounter? Not necessarily “we”, but definitely a human. It’s a nice turn of the tables that serves the movie well. More important, however, is the relationship between the two brothers. The big, strong, handsome hero having to be saved by his scrawny sibling is what the story hinges on. It gets lots of mileage out of their differences. The relationship between Gary and his son Kip (Heit) is also given ample time. Our focus here is on the boy’s image of his dad as compared to how he feels about his uncle. Combined with the sibling rivalry we witness, this becomes a nice little commentary on hero worship and who our idols should really be.

In addition to watching those relationships play out we are treated to some sight gags, pop culture references and other jokes that mostly lean ever-so-slightly further on the intellectual side of things than many kiddie flicks. We also get some lively visuals and solid action sequences. There are also a number of recognizable voices who all handle their roles well. One drawback is that the plot plays out without much surprise, even for the little ones. Another, and bigger one is that it doesn’t quite connect on an emotional level the way it seems to want. Therefore, this is a perfectly acceptable movie aimed at kids that is fun to watch, but doesn’t really stand out from the crowd.

MY SCORE: 6/10

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