Escape From Planet Earth ***Dir: Cal Brunker. With the voices of: Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba. 89 mins. Cert: PG
This zippy, better-than-it-looks multiplex filler counts as the first digimation to expose its audience of snacking pre-teens to images of Stalin and Fidel Castro, part of an early slideshow illustrating how men with facial hair have traditionally assumed control of our planet. (It concludes with a shot of ZZ Top.) Visually, little else distinguishes this tale of Blu-Tacky aliens attempting to rescue one of their own from Area 51, here a holding bay for ETs whose out-of-this-world inventions (smartphones, social networking) have been reappropriated by puny Earthlings. Its secret weapon is a satirically inclined script, reworked by Stephen Fry among others, which disrupts the general factory-line vibe with regular funny lines: I liked one unexpectedly sharp “don’t ask, don’t tell” gag, and the moment when our hero’s wife pulls on her anti-gravity boots to join the mission, insisting “it’s not rocket science”, only to be met with an exquisitely timed “That’s exactly what it is”.
Escape from Planet Earth is in cinemas nationwide.