Oh, come on. “Planet 51” is no instant classic, but it does rate as a pleasant diversion, a kind of bridge on connecting holiday blockbusters with movies you can take the kids to.
Inventive and dazzlingly original? No way. But it is more appealing and fun than some hyped-up inflations registering zero. It is, in short, a variation on a familiar theme: a visit to another planet.
The scary intruder landing on “Planet 51” is one of us, a terrifically friendly fellow voiced by Dwayne Johnson. He’s Chuck Baker, who arrives with his dog.
Directed by: Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez.
With voices of: Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman and John Cleese
Running time: 91 minutes
Predictably, the planet’s denizens are at first frightened by and eventually charmed by the duo, and, yes, there is a potential enemy in the person of a general (Gary Oldman) as well as a mad scientist (John Cleese) who wants to dissect Chuck’s brain.
There’s no sense of danger here, just a nibble or two of suspense, generated by escapes and chases in an environment recalling the sets in movies of the 1960s. It’s brittle nostalgia for adults and harmless dibs of fun for kids ready and eager to brave a matinee on a cool afternoon.
Usually, I protect myself from these brittle escapades into the kiddie frontiers of outer space, but somehow I warmed up to “Planet 51,” perhaps because it wasn’t trying so hard to be cool and pretentiously inventive.
Reach film critic Dan DiNicola at [email protected]