CATEGORIES Reviews
'Planet 51' – one of those animated movies filled with all-star names in the cast – is a bit of a misfire with critics.

Voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Jessica Biel and Justin Long – there is a reason those names come first, it's to distract from the story and script – 'Planet 51' is set in a faraway world where an American astronaut Capt. Charles T. Baker (Johnson) lands. Twist is, he is the alien in a world inhabited by green people in a 'Leave it to Beaver' version of 1950's suburban America. They don't want Capt. Baker causing trouble on their planet. Thus, Chuck befriends Lem (Long) and a robot dog named Rover to escape being relegated to a museum.

Critics are complaining the originality is lazy, as are the jokes -- a dog peeing acid is a highlight: never great for kids. But a pretty look (even though the characters may appear rudimentary) and a homespun charm may appeal to some. Or you may want to catch it on cable with the kids. 'Planet 51' – one of those animated movies filled with all-star names in the cast – is a bit of a misfire with critics.

Voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Jessica Biel and Justin Long – there is a reason those names come first, it's to distract from the story and script – 'Planet 51' is set in a faraway world where an American astronaut Capt. Charles T. Baker (Johnson) lands. Twist is, he is the alien in a world inhabited by green people in a 'Leave it to Beaver' version of 1950's suburban America. They don't want Capt. Baker causing trouble on their planet. Thus, Chuck befriends Lem (Long) and a robot dog named Rover to escape being relegated to a museum.

Critics are complaining the originality is lazy, as are the jokes -- a dog peeing acid is a highlight: never great for kids. But a pretty look (even though the characters may appear rudimentary) and a homespun charm may appeal to some. Or you may want to catch it on cable with the kids.

Entertainment Weekly: "It takes only one look at the rigid, rubbery aliens in this sci-fi spoof to know that we aren't dealing with topflight computer animation here. But 'Planet 51' still delivers a few pleasant surprises, including a smart story - a reverse-E.T. riff that plops an American astronaut down in a world of just-like-us-only-green creatures - and clever characters, like a lovable NASA rover with canine programming."

Roger Ebert: "Although not bowling me over, 'Planet 51' is a jolly and good-looking animated feature in glorious 2-D. It doesn't make the slightest effort to explain why an English-speaking clone of the world of 'American Graffiti' could exist elsewhere in the universe. How could it?"

Variety: "The picture devotes itself to tiresomely repetitive scenes of frenzied jeopardy, accompanied by music that shifts gears every 15 seconds to underline whatever response is desired and larded with refs to famous antecedents ('The Day the Earth Stood Still,' '2001,' 'Star Wars,' 'E.T.,' 'Alien,' et al.) and an innocuous putative romance between Lem and neighbor Neera (Jessica Biel). Pic quickly grows aggravating because it's clear there's no imagination in play, only the recycling of familiar motifs and the attempted generation of Pavlovian responses based on expected character behavior and generic action. But it might have been worse: Its defects could have been magnified by 3D."

Hollywood Reporter: "'Planet 51' is Sci-Fi Lite, running through the cliches -- no, let's make that the memories -- of old sci-fi classics with gentle jokes and cornball battles. It doesn't measure up to what's best in current animation -- say, 'Coraline,' 'Up,' 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' or 'A Town Called Panic,' to name a few other films the Academy recently announced as eligible for this year's animation nomination. Those films demonstrate you can make animation that entertains the entire family. 'Planet 51' is not that ambitious."

'Planet 51' Trailer

'Planet 51' showtimes and tickets


Village Voice: "'Planet 51' lacks the Pixar polish (particularly in its writing)-still, it's not a bad knockoff. The alternate-reality, Cold War–era design is cute: towns laid out like crop circles; women wearing beehives neatly coiffed above their antennae; and saucer-shaped cars wobbling inches from the pavement. An awkward European-American co-production, 'Planet 51' mainly succeeds at reminding you of all the better movies that inspired it."

E! Online: "Not just unfunny, but plain old unsettling, is the element of adult danger. Our heroes need to be in peril to set up any kind of satisfying payoff, but there are scenes of cute bugs getting squished (even 'Wall-E' spared a roach!), a circular saw about to rip open a brain, and an implied police beating (like, you can see the billy clubs going up and down in the frame, though not making actual contact). Kids are a lot more sophisticated these days, no doubt, but is nothing sacred?"

Hollywood.com: "If there was ever an animated film that needed a clever punch-up team, it's this one. 'Planet 51' lacks both style AND substance, which is surprising given the wealth of opportunities you'd think would be presented here. Perhaps first-time Spanish director Jorge Blanco and new Madrid-based studio Ilion Animation were overconfident about making a children's film. All I can think is that they must have assumed this was going straight to DVD anyway and no one would notice. 'Planet 51' deserves to be packed up in a dusty crate in a corner of the Area 51 warehouse, never to be seen again."