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Movie Review: Planet 51

November 20, 2009

planet51Well shucks, call me old fashioned but I like my animated movies fresh, original and most importantly, funny.  I went in with high hopes for Planet 51, the trailers promised a movie with a cute concept, ripe for feel-good humor.  Unfortunately the premise is only amusing for about the first 20 minutes.   If Planet 51 had been a short, it might have managed to hold my attention a little better.

The premise is simple, alien lands on an inhabited planet. Alien befriends a local. Alien needs to get home and local helps out—but wait! The alien is HUMAN!!!—After the novelty wore off there wasn’t much left to the story, except plot twists we’ve seen a thousand times before.  Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers, He’s Just Not That Into You) is the voice of our young alien protagonist Lem, who befriends the human astronaut, voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  I found the character of Captain Charles T. Baker obnoxious; if extremely conceited frat boys were given space ships and allowed to travel to alien planets, they would be Capt. Baker.  I kept comparing the character of Capt. Baker to that of Buzz Lightyear from the infinitely better animated movie, Toy Story. They share some similarities, a cocky attitude, an affinity for space travel and rugged good looks.  But unlike Buzz, I never warmed up to Capt. Baker, finding him just as smarmy and arrogant at the end of the movie, as I did when he first appeared (planting a U.S. flag in someone’s front yard…a coincidence or a cheap jab at America’s love of manifesting destiny?).

The city of Glipforg on Planet 51 seems to exist in a quaint  1950’s reality, where hair is bouffanted, fences are white and picked and everyone knows each other’s name.  All of which is fine by me, I just found the idea of this doo-wop-loving race driving hovercrafts a little hard to swallow…because everything else in this feature is so probable.  Please bare with me while I go off on a bit of a tangent, but two things are scrawled in my notebook that need to be addressed in the film, “butt plugs!” and “no pants!”. I’m not sure why the makers of Planet 51 decided to forgo pants on the male aliens or why they would then make two references to using corks to prevent anal probing.  I’m not making this up.

This is the first film for the Madrid based Ilion Animated Studios, and it shows.  While the animation is perfectly fine, it’s just that, perfectly fine.  The subtle artistry of Pixar (Toystory, Finding Nemo, Up) or Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Ponyo) just isn’t there.  While Planet 51 is based on a good premise, it ultimately wasn’t enough to keep me interested.  Although kids will think it’s hilarious, parents on the other hand, might want to checkout something else.

Frothygirlz Rating: 4/10


One Response to “ Movie Review: Planet 51 ”

  1. New Moon on November 26, 2009 at 11:20 am

    This looks like a cheap, not throught through movie. Not to sound like some kind of weird alien expert by (a) aliens wouldn’t be like humans – american humans with green skin?? and (b) humans would not just land on a planet without scanning it first for signs of life. (c) ALIENS WOULD NOT SPEAK ENGLISH!! And whats with the dog?? ‘Aliens’ ripoff much. Take you kids to it… thats about the only logic in it to me.