Back in “the day,” if it wasn’t Disney, animated films weren’t that great. Then Paramount/Dreamworks got involved and Disney had some competition. But this latest animated flick, from Canada’s Rainmaker Entertainment being released by the Weinstein Company, proves that there’s a kid on the block that shouldn’t be missed. Escape From Planet Earth stars the voice talent of Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, William Shatner, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Craig Robinson, Sofia Vergara, Jane Lynch, and Ricky Gervais. The pop-off-the-screen animation tells the story of two alien brothers who save the day, and their relationship, by finishing the mission by whatever means possible.
When younger, bolder space agent brother Scorch goes on a mission to Earth, having kicked his older, smarter brother, Gary, to the curb, he’s trapped by Area 51’s General Shanker. Gary attempts to intervene, ends up helping to build a planet-destroying laser, and sucking his own wife and child into the dangerous web around them. But in the process of battling the villainous general, the two brothers come to recognize that they’re much stronger as a team, and that their skills complement each other. It’s a simple story of brothers dressed up with aliens, lasers, shoot-outs, and some of the best animation I’ve seen in awhile! Throw in Owl City’s “Shooting Stars,” the option for 3D, and the humor of aliens exploring Earth for the first time, and you’ve got an animated film that you shouldn’t miss.
Honestly, as much as it is about family, it’s also about friendship. Scorch is bold in a reckless sort of way, but without him, countless “people” wouldn’t have been saved; Gary is careful, with preparation and “Plan Bs” to his credit. But ultimately, neither one would have success without the other. I’m certainly reminded of Disney’s Prep & Landing II, but I think the comparisons in the ways that we work with our family, our friends, our co-workers, and our community all bear inspection after watching this: do we accept one another’s differences or only exploit/ridicule/misunderstand them? Do we strengthen each other or spend time criticizing each other into a pulpy mess?
So, stepping carefully from point A to … here, one can see that we’re watching a story about alien brothers who have to recognize that each of them is special, and that each of the aliens (and humans) they meet shouldn’t necessarily be considered weird or “bad,” but treated with respect. Sure, Shanker is bad news, but he’s not representative of the whole human race (played out in Adam Sandler’s Hotel Transylvania last year). But if he or some individual alien caused a whole race or people to be ignored, marginalized, or wiped out, what would that say about us and our capacity for awareness and love? Methinks there are lots of situations that this could apply to…
So, check out Escape for the animation, and stay for the story. It’ll be worth it to you.