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Some chuckles in kid-friendly 'Aliens'

Hannah (Ashley Boettcher) bonds with friendly alien Sparks in the kiddie feature "Aliens in the Attic."
Hannah (Ashley Boettcher) bonds with friendly alien Sparks in the kiddie feature "Aliens in the Attic."
Twentieth Century Fox

ALIENS IN THE ATTIC — ★★ — Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Tisdale; rated PG (violence, vulgarity, profanity); in general release

Discarded Fox ideas for an ad campaign for the kiddie feature "Aliens in the Attic":

"'Aliens in the Attic': At least it's not 'I Love You Beth Cooper'!"

"'Aliens in the Attic': Cheaper than 'G-Force 3D.'"

Or "Aliens in the Attic': See it or we'll make a 'Chipmunks' sequel!"

Sadly, those were not to be for this movie, which wasn't previewed for critics. A children's movie mix of live-action and animation, it has a few positive messages, a few laughs and a few comic throwdowns, one involving Doris Roberts of "Everybody Loves Raymond" going all "Crouching Tiger" on an alien-controlled frat boy.

Hilarious? No. But will you hate your kids for begging to see it? Nooooo. Can't say that about "G-Force."

An extended family gathers in a big Victorian rental home in the country. There's Tom, the "Math-lete" (Carter Jenkins), Jake the alpha male (Austin Butler), Tom's dating-a-college-guy sister (Ashley Tisdale of "High School Musical"), baby sister Hannah (Ashley Boettcher) and The Twins (Henri and Regan Young).

They're the ones who stumble across four diminutive aliens (animated) who have landed in the attic at the vanguard of a Zirconian invasion force.

The adults (Roberts, Kevin Nealon and Andy Richter among them) are out of the loop. So's the sheriff (Tim Meadows).

It's up to the kids — who can resist the alien mind-and-body control ray that turns select adults into zombie puppets to save the Earth.

Stupid movie, right? But kid-friendly, as the children work out weapons to fight with, ways to fend off the beasties (Thomas Haden Church, Josh Peck and J.K. Simmons do voices) and funny things they can do with the adults who no longer control their actions such as manipulate granny (Roberts) into a serious knockdown drag-out with Robert Hoffman, who plays the frat-boy love interest for Tisdale's character. Hoffman steals the picture, turning himself into a human marionette who wears one extreme goofy expression after another as he hurls himself into this role as if his career was on the line.

No, there's not much of a movie to steal. But parents will chuckle at kids who can't fathom how to use a rotary phone (sloooooow dialing) and who relate everything to a video game.

"This isn't X-Box, it's real! Like Wii!"

And you can't fault a movie that makes the merits of scholarship clear when you're at war with creatures that can control gravity.

"You messed with the wrong Math-lete!"

"Aliens in the Attic" is rated PG for action violence, some suggestive humor and language. Running time: 86 minutes.