By Dirk Sonniksen | November 19, 2009
Director(s): Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad (co-director)
Writer: Joe Stillman
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, John Cleese, Seann William Scott
It’s the 1950s on Planet 51, and young Lem (Justin Long) is a budding astronomer. Lem is convinced there’s more to the universe than what he’s been spoon-fed by his elders, but pacifying the elders proves beneficial in furthering his dreams. Just when things are looking up for Lem, along comes Captain Charles T. Baker (Dwayne Johnson), 21st Century astronaut from Earth, and alien enemy to Planet 51. Lem finds himself caught between saving “Chuck” Baker and siding with the town, a sort of hapless group of vigilantes bent on seeing the alien on the dissection table. While Baker is amazed to find the planet inhabited by little green creatures, he is even more shocked to find himself running for his life through a very Mayberryesque alien landscape. Will Chuck make it back to Earth? Who will help him? Gosh, I wonder.
So, what’s to like about Planet 51? One word – Rover. While the majority of this flick left me yawning, Rover, Chuck’s mechanical companion, kept me semi-conscious throughout the film. Couple that with the town dog that is made to resemble the creature from Alien, and you might be able to stay awake. Ok, it’s obvious I have a penchant for canines, particularly the mechanical variety.
To lessen my criticism slightly, I will give the actors credit for making it a cohesive film on that front. Even though I’ve never seen a film starring Dwayne Johnson, he was the perfect choice for Baker. In addition, Justin Long, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman, and John Cleese managed to at least partially save this film. Having done not an ounce of research beforehand, I had no idea who would be gracing the audio portion of our feature, and was pleased that I could not easily pick out a voice. That’s a good thing.
Planet 51 is essentially the sort of movie you’d see on Nickelodeon, only with a multi-million-dollar budget. This is truly a film that will appeal to the giggle box of your kids (my five-year-old son laughed through the entire flick), and you’ll likely emerge the hero for taking them. On the other hand, any adult who has had to suffer through enough of these half-baked animated stories will quickly grow tired of its intended charms. The fifties vibe wears off quickly, and the whole “we destroy what we don’t understand” thing is just getting old. If Hollywood wants to saturate kids’ movies with social commentary, fine, but come up with something original for a change.