'Aliens in the Attic'

The extraterrestrial advance team in the kid-friendly adventure romp "Aliens in the Attic" qualifies as the most unthreatening bunch of cinematic space invaders since the waterlogged aliens in M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs."

But then that's precisely the point, since adults have as much place in the movie's world as the grown-ups in the "Peanuts" comic strips. The "Gremlin"-like little green men (and one little green lady) in "Aliens" can easily plant their mind-control plugs into moms and dads, but kids are immune to their effects. That means the movie's band of teens and tweens will have to save the day, armed with only paint-ball guns, Mentos and their joystick-related muscle memories.

Better than most movies that aren't screened in advance for critics, "Aliens" is perfectly calibrated for the pre-adolescent set, highlighting broad physical comedy and themes of kid empowerment and featuring one of the stars from the "High School Musical" series (a bikini-clad Ashley Tisdale, playing a variation of her "HSM" princess).

The action takes place at a lakefront rental home where a couple of related Michigan families have escaped for a little bonding time. Given the presence of teenagers, the idea of togetherness figures to be a pipe dream. Making it more improbable: The quartet of knee-high aliens who have landed (yes) in the attic.

That aliens capable of intergalactic travel are incapable of busting out of an attic is just plain silly, of course, but the movie has no pretense about being anything other than goofy entertainment. Carter Jenkins is fine as the don't-wannabe geek who learns that being a mathlete has its advantages. And seeing "Everybody Loves Raymond's" Doris Roberts showing off her geriatric ninja skills is good for a laugh.

But the movie belongs to Robert Hoffman. Playing Tisdale's two-faced boyfriend, Hoffman, a classically trained dancer, literally throws himself into the scenes in which the aliens use him as their personal remote-controlled errand boy. The extraterrestrials get title billing, but Hoffman steals the show.




'Aliens in the Attic'

MPAA rating: PG for action violence, some suggestive humor and language

Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Playing: In general release

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