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Review: Animated adventure ‘Luis and the Aliens’ has a surprisingly sad heart

Review: Animated adventure ‘Luis and the Aliens’ has a surprisingly sad heart
A scene from the animated movie "Luis and the Aliens." (Viva Pictures / DIRECTV)

The German animated film “Luis and the Aliens,” dubbed into English for its U.S. release, is a standard-issue kid-friendly adventure with a surprisingly sorrowful center. Directed by Christoph Lauenstein, Wolfgang Lauenstein and Sean McCormack and written by the Lauensteins, “Luis & the Aliens” tells the story of a lonely young boy who finds friends and protectors in a trio of brightly colored, blob-like extraterrestrials.

Luis has it pretty rough. He lives with his distracted, neglectful Ufologist dad, Armin (Dermot Magennis), who is so obsessed with finding life on other planets that he barely notices his son is around. The last thing Luis wants is to be taken to a foster home by the terrifying Ms. Diekendaker (Lea Thompson).

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Fortunately, Nag (Will Forte), Wabo (Orlando Leyba) and Mog (Joey Guila) pop down to Earth from their spaceship to pick up a massage mat they saw on an infomercial. They run into Luis and are soon attempting to help him evade Ms. Diekendaker.

It’s a silly, fairly rote animated film, but underneath the hijinks and mishaps is a rather devastatingly sad story. It’s this poignancy that makes “Luis & the Aliens” a step above the rest.

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‘Luis and the Aliens’

Rated: PG, for some rude humor and action

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Playing: Aug. 18, 10:30 a.m., Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Aug. 18, 10:30 a.m., Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills, also on VOD and DirecTV

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