Eleven-year-old Luis is a lonely boy with few friends. His father, a dishevelled ‘UFOlogist’ who sleeps all day and looks through his telescope at night in search of aliens, neglects him. The Principal of Luis’ school decides to take it upon himself to have a social worker call into Luis’ home, but the boy is convinced that she is evil and that the boarding school she will take him to is even worse than his rundown house. Meanwhile, a trio of aliens in search of a massage mat called a ‘Nubby Dubby’ land in Luis’ hometown. The boy realises that the little guys could be the answer to all his problems.
This German Danish co-production from the Oscar-winning director brothers Christoph and Wolfbang Lauenstein (though, mind you, the win was back in 1990 for animated short ‘Balance’) is pretty harmless other than the fact that it’s boring, unexceptional and has silly cartoon logic.
All the characters you’d expect to see in your average animation are here – the bully, the crush, the fussy neighbours, etc., and even the alien trio are pretty interchangeable character-wise (the taller one seems to be the practical, worrisome one, while another’s womanising ways are established in one scene only to be quickly abandoned, and the third appears to be the dim one of the group until it emerges that all three are fairly dim). Luis too has no particularly distinguishing characteristics as the young protagonist.
The comedy kicks into gear when the aliens start creating havoc with their transformation skills, and children will particularly delight in the crude humour that is produced as a result. However, the movie’s portrayal of the father – who would seem to be mad, but then was right all along, because cartoon – as well as its abrasive, insensitive representation of how children from problem homes should be treated by their elders, is bafflingly illogical.
The animation standard and design is uninspired compared to what other studios are producing at the moment. Its message of ‘the value of family’ is one we’ve seen thousands of times before, done in a much more meaningful way in prior animated movies. Very young children should enjoy it enough, but it’s run-of-the-mill and sub-standard as a feature for all the family.