The plot from "Escape from Planet Earth" is pretty much what you would expect from any movie about aliens landing on planet Earth dating back to "E.T. the Extraterrestrial": Guys in yellow NBC suits (no, not Peacock executives) show up to capture the alien and hilarity ensues. What's so surprising about "Escape" is how it casually embraces Internet conspiracy theory and makes it fodder for a kid's movie.
The story begins on Planet Baab (pronounced "Bob") where blue-skinned national hero Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is like the Buzz Lightyear of BASA (Baab version of NASA, I guess), backed by the Woody equivalent of his planet, head of mission control Gary (Rob Corddry). Gary's married to a hot wife (yes, this film makes this point twice, although part of the joke is that the blue aliens all look the same to us) named Kira (Sarah Jessica Parker) who was formerly BASA chief before she decided to be a stay-at-home mom to their son Kip (Jonathan Morgan Heit). Yes, this comes up too.
Scorch's new mission is to visit the Dark Planet, which no alien species has ever returned from. He is ordered there by the new BASA chief, Lena (Jessica Alba), but it's so dangerous that Gary quits in protest, leaving Scorch on his own. Of course, when Scorch arrives he ends up captured by William T. Shanker (William T. Shatner, hilariously riffing on his Captain Kirk persona), military head of Area 51. Gary, guilty over quitting and leaving his brother stranded, decides to finally be a hero and try to rescue him.
SPOILER FROM PLANET EARTH: He fails miserably.
And that's when "Escape" really gets rolling, eagerly embracing all your favorite conspiracy theories: the grays are working for the government, they are creating alien technology, and the government sells back that alien technology to private front corporations which is why we have the touch screens, the Internet, and social networking. These technologies have been invented by captured aliens diminutive mouse Doc (Craig Robinson), three-eyed slug Thurman (George Lopez), and crab-like giant Io (Jane Lynch).
Although the trailers make it look like "Escape" is, well, a buddy-escape movie, it takes quite a long time before any escaping happens. Mostly, Gary argues with Scorch, Lena and Kira fight, and Shanker makes some glorious Kirk-like speeches.
The pacing wildly uneven, ranging from rake-to-the-crotch jokes to awkward interspecies romance. At one point, a very scary monster is given a voiceover that sounds like someone in the movie theater shouting with a funny voice – presumably to make the monster less scary in post-production. There's also the occasional BOING! sound effect that's rather dissonant with the rest of the film's high stakes (Death Star-level planet destroying).
The moral of the story seems to be that geeks can fight the power, get the girl, and save the world – except that Gary pretty much has the first two to begin with. Still, that's not a bad tale for kids to take away from a film that occasionally veers into adult territory. My son really liked it.
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