A cosmic coming together of bad weather, bored pre-teens and a desert like release slate in terms of kid friendly fare (for us Muggle folk at least) conspire to propel this charmless CGI romp to the top of the tree virtually by default of there being no alternative. Co-scripter Mark Burton actually has pedigree to make you think otherwise, having been involved in the deliciously inventive Chicken Run, the venerable Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and the sorely underrated Madagascar prior to this. But loading up on such kiddie cult classics as Spaced Invaders and Gremlins, marrying it with the pizzazz of Spy Kids, there is almost an inspiration overload and the derivative result falls disappointingly flat.

A cast of impossibly white-teethed pre-pubescent youngsters, alongside High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale as the pristinely perfect elder sister, comprises the Pearson family offspring. Jake and Tom are the vessels by which the kid power will be vicariously funneled, while Tisdale’s Bethany is the elder sister whose presence enables the true villain of the piece to make his entrance – her jerk boyfriend Ricky. Frog-marched up to their parents Maine summer home (where is Steven King when you need him?) for fresh air and a meteor shower, Jake and Tom are quickly bored and itching for something to happen.

Their prayers are answered when a group of inept but murderous extra-terrestrials crash land and set about matters of conquest and domination. Their chief weapon is an implant that lets them take control of a person’s body. Obviously it doesn’t work on kids (what fun would that be?) and it’s a plot device that seems to exist for no other reason than to throw grown-ups around like rag-dolls. Cue the valiant heroics by the too-cool-for-school youngsters with their substantial wits, sly cunning, and improvised weaponry, amidst the befuddled, headless chicken antics of the clueless grown-ups. The language is pristinely grandma friendly, the violence impossibly bloodless, and the CGI suitably slick. But the jokes are tired and ripped from other, better movies of similar vein.

Aside from the admirably game Robert Hoffman in the role of jock douche bag Ricky, there is precious little here worth rousing from slumber to take in. Where as most kid films boast a mawkish factor that borders on the intolerable, by contrast Aliens in the Attic will have you wishing for the mouth-breathing gawp of a Macaulay Culkin, or that kid from the Problem Child movies, as they at least had a little personality. Tisdale aside, this lot could be cardboard cutouts for all the presence they carry and much of the mercifully brief runtime is built around the singular idea of getting one over on those who control the bedtime, the Internet, and the remote control.

If the whinge factor in your living room is absolutely intolerable, then perhaps venture out to the multiplex for this one, as the youngsters will absolutely lap up the empowering anarchy on display. But if your eardrums will hold out for it, then skip this and tell them to sit down, shut up, and wait for Shorts, which comes out next week.

Starring: Carter Jenkins, Austin Robert Butler, Ashley Tisdale, Ashley Boettcher, Gillian Vigman, Robert Hoffman

Director: John Schultz

Runtime: 86 Minutes

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Rating: PG

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