Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss is a real movie I saw once, a 2006 animated feature that transposes Shakespeare's play and dumps it like a bowel movement into a magical world of talking cartoon seals. The amount of flabbergasting torture inflicted on every pair of human eyes and ears who witness this film is incalculable. At 71 minutes it felt like like seven hours. Satantango is easier to sit through. But you know what? I can always say, pounding my chest like a tough guy, that I saw it and lived; I've been to war and now I have battle scars and a dark story lurking behind my downcast eyes.

There's no story to tell about Escape from Planet Earth. It's from the creators of Hoodwinked and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. It features the voices of Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Ricky Gervais, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, Paul Scheer, Sarah Jessica Parker, William Shatner, Jane Lynch, Steve Zahn, Chris Parnell, George Lopez and Craig Robinson. And it is not horrible in the way that R&J:SWAK is horrible. It's just a by-the-numbers children's film about aliens who've crashed into Earth and who are then jailed in Area 51 until they invent something for the good of humanity, like the Internet, touch-screen technology or Google. Some anthropomorphic blue creatures wind up here and have to leave before the military man running Area 51 finds a way to control the universe. They find 7-11s hypnotically beautiful and learn to love Slurpees. There are several scenes involving Slurpees.

As all the expected beats are tapped and undemanding jokes about Roswell, the Bermuda Triangle, James Cameron and Pixar are ker-chunked into place as though the makers were building a piece of Ikea furniture, your children will begin to fidget. Since this wasn't screened for press, I had the direct experience of sitting in a movie theater with the target audience, ages toddler to about eight, I'd guess. They babbled and whined. They asked lots of loud questions. They got up and ran down the aisles. They made their way to the front of the house and played tag in front of the screen. They could not have cared less about what was going on in the film. It's that undistinguished, not good, not miserable, just a lot of whatever. They will forget they saw it by dinner time. But they'll demand Slurpees sometime later today. That means the movie probably won.


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