UK Release Date: 24th August 2018
Runtime: 86 minutes
Director: Christoph Lauenstein, Wolfgang Lauenstein, Sean McCormack
Writer: Christoph Lauenstein, Wolfgang Lauenstein
Starring: Callum Maloney, Lucy Carolan, Dermot Magennis, Will Forte, Ian Coppinger, Paul Tylak, Lea Thompson
Synopsis: The son of a UFO-obsessed scientist finds himself presented with the chance to interact with a trio of aliens, who have come to Earth in search of a particular product.
There has been a spate in recent years of animations from other parts of the world being awkwardly translated in order for release in the English speaking world. Recent years have seen bizarre table football-based comedy The Unbeatables, Noah’s Ark riff Two By Two and this year’s bafflingly successful Duck Duck Goose make their way into cinemas. The latest entry into this strange canon is Luis and the Aliens. The plot is as follows: three aliens decide to make their way to Earth when they see an infomercial promoting a massage mat and decide they must have one. Yes, that’s really the impetus for a multiplex feature.
Fortunately for these aliens, the first human they bump into is Luis (Callum Maloney), whose father is a disgraced UFO expert (Dermot Magennis) with “freak” daubed on his front door by uptight suburban neighbours who are tired of his shabby house and regular doomsday prophecies. Luis’s dad, however, is terrified of aliens and vows to kill any he sees, which leads to Luis hastily concealing his new buddies, both from his father and from his budding reporter classmate Jennifer (Lucy Carolan).
There’s rather a lot of plot in Luis and the Aliens considering its throwaway animation trappings – there’s also a running bit involving Lea Thompson as a rather terrifying Cruella De Vil figure. It’s a movie that doesn’t seem to have any sense of its own identity, but does understand the maxim that kids will watch anything as long as it’s noisy, colourful and liberally dotted with toilet humour. There’s very little storytelling invention on show and the emotional beats are flimsy at best.
At times, though, this movie is actively boring. It’s less than 90 minutes long, but still struggles to sustain any sort of comedic energy or visual kineticism. This is a movie that takes swipes at American suburbia, without any real understanding of what it’s swiping at and so nothing quite rings true. It’s most reminiscent of an awkwardly extended feature-length outing for a cartoon, like the ones that constantly seemed to play during summer holiday years ago. For that reason, it might work as something to plonk a bored child in front of for two hours. But in the cinema? It’s probably not worth the price of admission.
Pop or Poop?
With no narrative invention and an over-reliance on simply throwing colours at the audience, Luis and the Aliens is an animated comedy completely devoid of energy or intelligence. It’s fine for undemanding kids who have already seen Incredibles 2 but, otherwise, it’s not worthy of your time.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.