By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — "Escape From Planet Earth" (Weinstein) won’t cause either targeted children or their adult guardians to beg, in the words of the 1960s musical, "Stop the World — I Want to Get Off!"
But, though good-hearted, this animated adventure — helmed and co-written by Callan Brunker — is only moderately entertaining.
Initially set among the blue-skinned inhabitants of the distant Planet Baab — pronounced "Bob" — the film charts the partnership of, and rivalry between, brothers Scorch (voice of Brendan Fraser) and Gary (voice of Rob Corddry) Supernova. Heroic but dimwitted, Scorch is Baab’s most famous astronaut, while nerdy brainiac Gary heads Mission Control, using his position to get the unappreciative Scorch out of numerous scrapes.
On Baab, Earth is known as the mysterious and frightening "Dark Planet," a destination from which no intergalactic traveler has ever returned. So, when Gary’s tough-as-nails boss, Lena (voiced by Jessica Alba), orders Scorch to undertake a voyage there, Gary fervently objects. But Scorch is not to be dissuaded, even after Gary quits his job in frustration, leaving Scorch without his guidance and protection.
Gary’s attitude changes swiftly after Scorch is taken prisoner by a gung-ho earthling, Air Force Gen. Shanker (voice of William Shatner). Despite their bickering, and heedless of danger, Gary feels compelled to follow his brother and rescue him.
Family solidarity is showcased not only through the central siblings’ eventual teamwork, but through Gary’s bonds with his loving wife, Kira (voice of Sarah Jessica Parker), and plucky young son, Kip, (voiced by Jonathan Morgan Heit).
Armaments-loving, alien-hating Gen. Shanker seems to be operating on his own, though he has an array of hazmat-suited troops at his command. Still, some jokes in Brunker and Bob Barlen’s script may strike mature viewers as broadly anti-military, rather than simply anti-militaristic.
Parents will also note passing instances of mild potty humor — though it’s doubtful kids will pick up on joking references to the smell of "latrines" — and a scene of implied comic nudity. While the violence is all thoroughly stylized, Scorch revels in the defeat of his adversaries, somewhat in the manner of a quarterback after a touchdown, and other characters follow his lead in this.
The film contains much cartoon violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.