Escape From Planet Earth

by Martin R. "Vargo" Schneider

EXPECTATIONS: Computer-animated alien movies and I have not been friends in the past, but I swear I'll give this one a fair shake. So what if it's been in development hell for the past five years, had almost no marketing, and is from a studio that has literally never made another movie? That doesn't mean anything. I mean, this company made Reboot, and that's totally not something I only think of as good because I was a child when it aired and I've deluded myself with nostalgia.

Still, there has to be some reason I'm the only one in this theater, and I'm pretty sure it's not because the movie's been out a month.

REALITY: Hollywood is a place where dreams come true, and anything can happen as long as you never give up on your dreams or work with the Weinstein Brothers. But, really, if your movie has taken five years and seventeen rewrites to make, and said rewrites were demanded by said brothers, well... Give up. Give up on your dream, because right now your dream is to make a bad movie. That's not a good dream to have. Stop having it.

Every kids' film has a scene like this. The central ensemble hurtle toward the camera and overreact hilariously.

Escape From Planet Earth - disappointingly not a Snake Plissken film - is basically a checklist of generic children's films traits rolled into one. Celebrity voices people no longer care about? Check. Pop-culture references that were outdated when the movie was written three years ago? Check. Ending with a dance party? You bet your sweet ass that's a check.

There is a massive amount of 7-11 product placement in this film, and that feels appropriate. Movies like Escape From Planet Earth are basically gas-station food: They're bland, pre-packaged, unappealing lumps of matter that serve the basic function of sustenance but make you sick later.

In case you actually need a plot summary, here it is: Alien adventure hero Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser, in case you were the one person wondering what Brendan Fraser's been up to lately) is the most famous action rescue guy on the planet Baab. I'll pause here to point out that I'm pretty sure this is at least the tenth movie or cartoon to think naming a planet "Bob" is funny. I don't understand this phenomenon, and I don't like it.

Anyway, Scorch is basically useless without the assistance of his brother Gary (Rob Cordd-- Wait, Rob Corddry? Seriously?) who works at Mission Control, telling Scorch what to do every step of the way. Scorch gets sent to the Dark Planet, which is Earth, for some reason or another, and he and Gary get into a fight. Without Gary protecting him, Scorch is captured and sent to Area 51, where Gary eventually winds up when he attempts to rescue his brother. There they meet aliens from other worlds, voiced by the usually-fantastic Craig Robinson, the increasingly-annoying Jane Lynch, and giant-obnoxious-toolbox George Lopez, and discover that all the technology we use today was actually invented by indentured servant aliens.

I'll pause again here to point out that the movie takes some potshots at John Lasseter and Pixar, which is kinda like if Family Guy started attacking shows that are better than Family Guy. Oh, wait... Family Guy does that like five times an episode.

Those marching penguins could really learn a thing a two from these guys.

The film shows many signs of self-awareness, and that actually makes its genericness so much worse. This is a movie savvy enough to take a character voiced by William Shatner and make a gag of him wearing a toupee and banging aliens. (Side note: What is with these movies and alien-human hookups?) That's a decent gag, it's a nice bit for the adults, but then you realize that the character's name is William T. Striker, and you realize that they just weren't really putting any effort into it.

Another example: All the low-level minions are named for famous film directors, or named so that when their names are said in succession, it's a director's name. I first noticed this with the line "Peter! Jackson is down." That seemed kinda weird, and the next goons were named "Marty" and "Quentin." None of these directors have actually made alien movies, making me very confused about the gag until we finally arrive at "James! Cameron! Get that alien!" It's a joke that takes an hour to get to, and it doesn't even make that much sense when it happens. I just don't see the point of this. It's not even "jokes for the grown-ups" it's just "saying things that are things." Normally I'd say I was the only person in the theater noticing this, but as previously mentioned, I was the only person in the theater at all.

Escape From Planet Earth is so inept, I can't even be mad at it. This is a movie where a major character looks directly at the audience and says the line "Turn off your brain and hang on!" I just want to take the movie aside, put my arm around the movie and say "Oh, sweetie. Oh, honey, no. You have to have something interesting on the screen before you can do that."

Originality0/10
Character Design2/10
Attempts at Humor1/10
Saddening Self-Awareness3/10
Wait a Minute...Why do the Aliens Refer to Themselves as Aliens?
Overall6/50

MINORITY REPORT: I can't wait for when 2010s nostalgia becomes a thing, and teenagers spend hours blowing their minds over the fact that Escape From Planet Earth and Planet 51 are not only completely different movies, but also somehow the exact same movie. - Joseph "Jay Dub" Wade

- The Official Current Releases Facebook

– Joseph "Jay Dub" Wade (@JayDubSA)

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