American astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker, lands on Planet 51 thinking he's the first person to step foot on it. To his surprise, he finds that this planet is inhabited by little green people who are happily living in a white picket fence world reminiscent of a cheerfully innocent 1950s America, and whose only fear is that it will be overrun by alien invaders--like Chuck! With the help of his robot companion "Rover" and his new friend Lem, Chuck must navigate his way through the dazzling, but bewildering, landscape of Planet 51 in order to escape becoming a permanent part of the Planet 51 Alien Invaders Space Museum.
Man, talk about a great idea for a movie being executed terribly. That's how I felt after about 30 minutes of Planet 51. After reading about the film, seeing pictures of it, and hearing about the relatively cool cast of actors who would voice the characters, I kind of felt like this might be another exception to my distaste for animated films that I go to the theater with my kids to see to get a nap in. I was very wrong.
The movie starts out decently enough, establishing the characters and setting of the alien planet. It goes about showing us the "alien equivalent" of everything that we find normal on Earth - houses, grilling out, observatories, cars, stores, movies, towns, etc. At first, it's all "haha, that's pretty cool." One of the coolest things is that their "dogs" are actually the "Aliens" from the movies. They even pee acid. That was pretty cool.
It all quickly spirals downward, though. The jokes and equivalents begin to become quite annoying and eye-roll inducing. There's a scene where the astronaut somehow lands on the front of an alien's bike, they accidentally jump a ramp, and end up flying across the moon just like E.T. and Elliott in Spielberg's classic. Then, of course, the military of the planet have to be paranoid and immediately come to the conclusion that this "alien" from another planet HAS to be dangerous and wanting to take over the planet. There's even an "alien equivalent" of a hippie and his protest group. What starts out an interesting idea grows tiresome very fast.
It's cool that they got Dwayne Johnson to do astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker's voice, but in all honesty, they could have gotten anyone. You can barely even tell it's him doing the voice through most of the movie. Justin Long as Lem was pretty unrecognizable, as well. You could kind of hear his voice characteristics every once in a while. Looking over the list of actors who lent their voices to the film, I really can't recall any of their voices really being recognizable. Maybe I'm completely off, but isn't that the idea of having famous actors voice the characters in the film - to make everyone go "oh, cool - that's so and so doing that!" I mean, obviously the main reason is to have their names on the poster, but people like to know or find familiar the voices they here.
Basically, Planet 51 is another animated film I'll be filing away in my "Movies to Take a Nap To" section of my DVD collection. It's really a shame, because I was hoping for a lot more from this film. Maybe someday, someone else will make an attempt at it and do the idea justice. (Review by Eric Shirey)