'Escape from Planet Earth,' or Really Just America?
February 18, 2013
'Escape from Planet Earth,' or Really Just America?

Julie Samrick
Kid Focused

Two blue brothers from planet Baab have worked as a team to save one planet at a time for years until their latest challenge calls them to Earth, otherwise known as "The Dark Planet."  Scorch Supernova is a brawny, bachelor astronaut, while his nerdy brother, Gary, is a family man, content working behind the scenes as the genius manning the mission control tower.  While Scorch just wants to flex his muscles and recklessly answer the intergalactic SOS call to fight crime on Earth, cautious Gary thinks they'd better sit this one out. When Scorch decides to travel to Earth anyway, it sets up the physical problem of getting there and back to Baab safely, but it also sheds light on just how the brothers can still work together when they're as opposite as two brothers can be.

The movie is supposed to be about Earth, but it's clear that "America" is what's deemed "The Dark Planet." My main problem with "Escape" is how America is depicted in it.  Remember the saying, "I can talk about my mother but you can't."?  It's no coincidence that a Canadian film company made this movie, so therefore the jabs against America as being dumb and greedy just aren't as funny. Some of the digs are harmless and may get a laugh, like the quick tutorial the aliens watch to learn more about Earth, telling them Americans worship someone named "Simon Cow-wheel."  The first encounter the aliens have on Earth is at a massive, mega-lit 7-11 run by two guys who act like Beavis and Butthead.  The film goes on to show that the movie's villain is a corrupt, high-ranking, Elvis wig-wearing, American government official who oversees the space program, and that the only reason those Earthlings have gotten as far as they have with technology is because they ripped off alien ideas.  Does that sound like a familiar storyline? Most of these things will go over kids' heads, but patriotic parents will surely take notice.

What I did like about this movie is that both leading male characters are redeemed as "real men" in the end. Too often in movies and television of late, men are cast as either wimpy nerds or meatheads, and at first, both Gary and Scorch Supernova fit into these stereotypes (as do all the other males, save Gary's young son, Kip, who has yet to go through puberty). Yet we see the brothers are much more than meets the eye as the film develops.

Young children will enjoy this movie, while teens will be bored. My 9-year-old son went with me and said, "I liked how there were made-up planets in the movie - it was funny. I also liked how it showed real things about the solar system, like the Milky Way."

Themes about family, brotherhood, and loyalty can be tied-in to talk about with children after they see it.

Kid Focused Grades for Escape from Planet Earth
Compelling story line - C
Strong message - C
Leading character is a role model - B
Sexual content - B (Sofia Vergara's character oohs and aahs over Scorch, as do the villain and his online girlfriend.)
Violence - B (some punches and fast-paced action sequences)
Suited for the whole family - B- 
Overall Grade: B-/ C+

Escape from Planet Earth, Rated PG
Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes

Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of four young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues.  Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox and connect with us on Facebook too.  Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.

Posted by Staff at 12:00 AM