Australian Council on Children and the Media

Aliens in the Attic

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Violence, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Aliens in the Attic
  • a review of Aliens in the Attic completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 September 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and themes
Children 8-12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and themes
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Aliens in the Attic
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence and themes
Length 86 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Fifteen year old Tom Pearson’s (Carter Jenkins) life is not looking good. He is sick of being called a ‘brainiac’ and ‘mathlete’ and has spent the last term of school purposely failing his classes. He is being forced to go on a family vacation with his parents Stuart (Kevin Nealon) and Nina (Gillian Vigman), his older sister Bethany (Ashley Tisdale) and his little sister Hannah (Ashley Boettcher). They are going to an ancient lake house in the country where they will be joined by his Nana Rose (Doris Roberts) and Uncle Nate (Andy Richter), and his cousins Jake (Austin Butler) and Jake’s twin brothers Art (Henri Young) and Lee (Regan Young). Bethany’s smooth operating boyfriend Ricky (Robert Hoffman) arrives and gets himself invited to stay the night after arranging for his car to break down.

That night during a storm, four aliens arrive and start attacking the children. They learn that the aliens are after an extraterrestrial machine that is buried beneath the house and will stop at nothing to get it, as they are planning to invade the world and enslave the human race. The aliens use a mind controlling device to turn their victims into zombie-type aliens, the first victim being Ricky. In an effort to protect their parents, the kids decide to launch a war against the alien invaders to save themselves and all mankind.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Alien invasion; sibling rivalry

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, some of which may be imitated by children. Examples include:

  • Tom accidentally shoots Ricky with paint gun pellets, a number of which hit him directly in the crotch.
  • Ricky slaps Tom on the back of the head as he passes.
  • the aliens shoot a mind-controlling dart at the back of Ricky’s head. Using a remote control the aliens make Ricky go after Tom and Jake. There is a scuffle and then Ricky falls off the roof and gets tangled in the lattice.
  • while the kids are trying to escape from the attic the aliens are firing darts at them. Both Jake and Tom are hit, but they are not affected. As the kids slam the trap door to the attic shut some of the aliens’ nails get chopped off.
  • one alien elbows another and two alien heads get knocked together.
  • one alien grabs a rat and eats it whole.
  • Jake fires paintballs at the aliens.
  • Tom shoots the aliens with a potato gun and then with a fire extinguisher.
  • the twins use the mind control remote on Ricky, making him swing around and flip to the ground, slam into his own car and slap himself repeatedly in the face.
  • Bethany slaps Ricky in the face.
  • Jake throws fire crackers into the vent shafts to drive the aliens back. The aliens flee the explosions with one claiming that his butt is on fire.
  • an alien shoots a mind control dart into Nana’s neck. Nana then knocks down a door and attacks Jake, biting his arm with such force that her dentures are left there.
  • the aliens fire a potato gun at the kids.
  • an alien shoots a mind control dart at the Sheriff, but Jake hits him with a rake and he misses the shot.
  • the aliens shoot Jake with a potato gun, tie him up, gag him and drag him down some stairs.
  • controlled by a remote control device, Ricky shoves Tom and tries to hit the twins. He then battles a remote controlled Nana who blocks his punches, uses her cane and they both do a number of martial arts moves that result in walls and furniture being smashed. Eventually Nana does a flipping leap that results in Ricky being propelled down a hall and through a door.
  • Bethany battles an alien with a tennis racket.
  • Tom tries to shoot a mind control device into the neck of one of the aliens who is at least 20 times his normal size, while another gigantic alien is preparing to attack him. The two huge aliens wind up battling each other, including punching, elbowing, hitting and kicking.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • the appearance of the aliens is scary, with bulging faces and sharp teeth
  • the aliens’ determination to attack and harm the children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Jake is taken hostage by the aliens and is bound and gagged in the basement. He is later dumped in a hole where the others find him after a suspenseful trek through the darkness

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Ricky tells Bethany to “give papa some sugar.”
  • Bethany is warned that there will be no ‘fooling around’ when her parents allow Ricky to spend the night
  • after Tom shoots Ricky in the crotch with paint pellets, Ricky suggestively says that Bethany is just aching to be his (Ricky’s) private nurse.
  • Ricky tells Bethany that he should have stayed home and hooked up with another girl who is “smoking hot.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • there is a shirtless photo of Ricky on Bethany’s mobile phone.
  • Bethany sunbathes in a very skimpy bikini.
  • Bethany wears a midriff exposing top and very short shorts.
  • the aliens watch a scene from The Mask of Zorro where Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones spar with swords. He slits her dress and exposes much of her thigh before she disarms him and they kiss passionately.
  • Ricky removes his shirt while Bethany watches with breathless anticipation and then rubs suntan lotion all over his torso.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • When Stuart and Nina are heading out the door Uncle Nate says that they need some beer and chips.
  • The adults hold what appear to be glasses of wine.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • crap
  • son of a …

and name calling such as:

  • idiot
  • geek
  • buggers
  • crud
  • incompetent piece of…
  • space maggots
  • midget
  • frog face
  • wuss

In a nutshell

Aliens in the Attic is an adventure comedy that will appeal to a wide range of children but is one that is better suited to teen audiences and anyone who enjoys mindless entertainment.

The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself and not to judge people, (or even aliens), on first impressions alone.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • creativity and teamwork when solving problems
  • persistence and responsibility when it comes to finishing a task, even if it appears hopeless
  • tolerance and understanding for those who are different from yourself

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • lying to get what you want
  • not doing your best because you are worried about what other people will think
  • judging someone by their appearance and not by who they are
  • taking matters into your own hands and not discussing serious situations with your parents or others who could help

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