SPACED INVADERS -*1/2- Douglas Barr, Royal Dano, Ariana Richards; rated PG (violence, profanity); Century, Cottonwood, Mann 6 Plaza, Movies 7, Trolley North, Trolley Square.
"Spaced Invaders" would like to be a kiddie-style version of Mel Brooks' "Spaceballs," but it's more like "The Three Stooges in Orbit." In fact, "The Three Stooges in Orbit" is better.But if you do see this one, you may have the answer to a question in the next "Silver Screen" edition of Trivial Pursuit: What do you get when special effects experts Patrick Read Johnson and Scott Lawrence Alexander write their own movie, with Johnson directing? "Spaced Invaders," a low-budget picture with great special effects but with a story by two guys who've seen too many other movies.
What these guys are aiming for is a sendup of the classics, and you will recognize jokes on and ripoffs of "Star Wars," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "War of the Worlds," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Back to the Future," "Short Circuit" and even "The Wizard of Oz."
The story is set in the small mythical town of Big Bean, Ill., where, on Halloween night, the local disc jockey is playing a recording of Orson Welles' famous 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast, the one that had people in America actually believing that Martians had landed to take over the Earth.
This time it isn't the Earthlings who fall for it, however. The broadcast is picked up by Martians in space who fall for it and head for Earth to help with the invasion. But they are so comically inept that they crash-land into the barn of old-timer Royal Dano, who is about to be evicted. He reasons that if he can get some pictures he'll be able to sell them and save the farm. But they go off into town and try to intimidate the locals.
Meanwhile, the new sheriff is getting his daughter ready for trick-or-treating - she's dressed as the monster from "Alien." Naturally, when she runs into the Martians and their little "No. 5"-type robot, she thinks they are kids dressed up. Then she discovers who they are and tries to help them get off Earth before trouble brews.
This is all pretty silly stuff, very childish, except that some of the jokes are for some reason aimed above their heads. Are any of the little ones going to recognize the voices of two of the Martians as goofy imitations of Cary Grant and Jack Nicholson? Much less the Orson Welles gag.
Personally, I found this film too dark, chaotic and cluttered, and the jokes were far too dumb and redundant. My children liked it more and suggested I'm turning into an old fogey.
Maybe it's just that I'm tired of them having to settle for mediocre pictures, like this one and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
They deserve better.
"Spaced Invaders" is rated PG for comic violence and some mild profanity.