I’ve been tempted to cut Escape from Planet Earth some slack. After all, it’s mostly harmless and looks nice enough. Unfortunately, there comes a time when a movie becomes so “perfectly fine” and so top-heavy with mediocrity, that it finally topples ass-backward into awfulness. What we have here is an animated movie that’s so aggressively middlebrow and pointless that it can be called nothing other than bad.
This should come as no surprise when you look at what the film is working with. You’ve got a firmly B- and C-list cast of voice talent (when you’re pawning off Brendan Fraser as a reason to see your movie, you’ve got problems) and a script that leans heavily on listless slapstick, direction and animation that lacks comedic timing and jokes with the occasional lazy pop culture reference. Escape from Planet Earth is precisely how not to make an animated movie: take your core audience of children and give them little more than half-cocked pratfalls, while the best bones that can be thrown to their parents are some lame jabs at Simon Cowell. There’s no heart here, and even less in the way of brains: a combo that never works.
The film’s plot is almost workable, but its postmodern take on UFOs is a bit too much of a reverse take on the equally dreadful Planet 51 (2009). Nevertheless, there’s Gary (voiced by Rob Corddry) and Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser), two blue-skinned alien brothers who work as intergalactic adventurers. Scorch is the dim-witted glory hound out for fame, while Gary is the reluctant, nebbish brains of the operation who helps out at home from mission control. Scorch — with the aid of a cadre of sponsors and TV attention — brashly heads off to explore Earth, a seemingly dangerous world from which an alien has never returned. He’s soon captured, and nerdy Gary — feeling responsible for his brother — decides to mount a rescue mission.
On Earth, we find out that an Army general (William Shatner) is kidnapping aliens and forcing them to invent high-tech consumer goods. We meet a whole other slew of captives who are just as poorly drawn and one-dimensional as their headlining counterparts. Take away Escape from Planet Earth’s colorful visuals and you’ve got a movie that does the least amount of work to actually count as a motion picture. I’ve seen worse movies, but I’ve seen few that are more lazy than this. Rated PG for action and some mild rude humor.
Playing at Carmike 10, Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande