Aliens in the Attic

Aliens in the Attic is a 2009 American live-action/animated comic science fiction family film directed by John Schultz and starring Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Tisdale, Gillian Vigman, Andy Richter, Doris Roberts, Robert Hoffman, Kevin Nealon, Tim Meadows, Henri Young, Regan Young, Josh Peck, J. K. Simmons, Kari Wahlgren and Thomas Haden Church.[2][3] The plot revolves around the children in the Pearson family having to defend their vacation house against a group of aliens planning an invasion of Earth until one of the aliens betrays them and joins the Pearson children in battle.

Aliens in the Attic
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Schultz
Produced byBarry Josephson
Screenplay by
Story byMark Burton
Music byJohn Debney
CinematographyDon Burgess
Edited byJohn Pace
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • July 31, 2009 (2009-07-31) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$45 million[1]
Box office$57.9 million[1]

Produced by Regency Enterprises, Aliens in the Attic was released by 20th Century Fox on July 31, 2009 and received mixed reviews from film critics, but was a minor box office success.


A meteor shower rockets through open space. Four glowing pods are seen hiding behind the meteor shower. Suddenly the meteor shower makes a hard right and heads towards the distant planet Earth.

In a Chicago suburb, Stuart Pearson (Kevin Nealon) and his wife Nina (Gillian Vigman) head a family that includes 7-year-old Hannah (Ashley Boettcher), 17-year-old hormonal Bethany (Ashley Tisdale), who has just come back from a secret outing with her boyfriend Ricky Dillman (Robert Hoffman), and 15-year-old techno-geek Tom (Carter Jenkins), whose high school grades are low(on purpose). After arguing with Tom over hacking into his school's website to change his grades, Stuart decides the family needs some good and old-fashioned togetherness and takes them to a holiday home. Joining them is Nathan "Nate" Pearson (Andy Richter), his 14-year-old show off son Jake (Austin Butler), identical 12-year-old gaming nerd twins Art (Henri Young) and Lee (Regan Young), and Nana Rose (Doris Roberts). Ricky also arrives unexpectedly and talks his way into staying overnight, by giving them the impression that his car has broken down (he secretly took out one of the plugs) so he can spend time with Bethany.

As the family settles in, dark storm clouds swirl around the house and the four glowing pods land on the roof. A crew of little aliens emerges, made up of Skip (J. K. Simmons), the nasty, tough commander, Tazer (Thomas Haden Church), an ugly muscle-bound soldier armed to the teeth, Razor (Kari Wahlgren), a lethal, violent female soldier, and Sparks (Josh Peck), the four-armed engineer, who is the only non-threatening member. Since the aliens crashed into the satellite dish, Ricky and Tom are sent to fix it. In the attic, Ricky then reveals to Tom that he lied about his car breaking down, and being 18; Ricky is actually in college and four years older than Bethany. Ricky sends Tom to fix the satellite dish by himself, but it is beyond repair. Investigating further, Tom and Jake (who unexpectedly shows up) discover the aliens. Ricky is shot by Tazer with a dart-like "mind control plug", allowing the aliens to control him via a remote. The aliens, called "Zirkonians", lay claim to the planet and make Ricky attack the boys, but Tom and Jake manage to escape with Hannah and the twins' help. Tazer shoots them with mind control plugs but they fall off harmlessly; the devices do not work on kids.

The kids decide to protect the adults by keeping the aliens' existence a secret. Tom creates a potato gun and they repel the first alien attack from the attic. In the process, they obtain Ricky's controller and turn him against the aliens. The kids try to call 911, but Sheriff Doug Armstrong (Tim Meadows) doesn't believe them and sternly scolds them, thinking it was all false alarm.

The kids orchestrate a scheme to get the adults out of the house and then ambush the aliens as they try to reach the basement via the air vents, causing the gentle Sparks to become separated. He meets Hannah and they become friends. Unlike his alien cohorts, Sparks hates battle and just wants to return to his family. He helps the kids by making weapons for them and revealing his teammates are after a machine buried under the basement for many years that will allow the Zirkonians to invade the planet. The kids forgot about their grandmother, and the aliens mind control her, which gives her superhuman strength and agility, but they obtain her controller, and she defeats Ricky (now back under alien control) in a scene reminiscent of a fighting ninja video game. However, the aliens manage to capture Jake and Sparks, whom they need to complete their mission.

The kids finally reveal to Bethany the events that are taking place. The five of them rescue Jake in the basement. Ricky then insults Tom and the others and breaks up with Bethany because she always talks about feelings and family. The children attack the aliens and rescue Sparks, but Skip succeeds in using the enlarging machine, growing to 30 feet tall, and calls the Zirkonian invasion ships. They defeat him and shrink him again. Tazer and Razor (who have fallen in love) flee, while Skip is sucked into the machine, which was damaged in the process and explodes. Sparks calls off the invasion and returns home after saying goodbye. Tom and Stuart reconcile and the rest of the vacation goes back to normal, except the kids have grown closer during their adventure. In the distance, Skip, who has been shrunk to an even smaller size than before, appears bent on revenge, but meets his demise when a crow grabs him.

In a mid-credits scene, Bethany and Tom take revenge on Ricky by making him look like a fool in front of his new girlfriend Annie Filkins, using the alien mind control remote; Bethany gleefully comments that "she is so keeping this" after making Ricky land on his testicles.


Voice castEdit



The script was written by Mark Burton and Adam F. Goldberg. The film is co-financed by Fox and Regency while being distributed by Fox.[3][4] Fox snapped up the script in March 2006.[4] Marc Resteghini was overseeing for Fox while Kara Francis Smith shepherds for Regency. Barry Josephson was confirmed as the main producer while Thor Freudenthal was hired to direct principal production.[5] The principal production began in March 2007.[5] The film was originally titled They Came from Upstairs but later changed to Aliens in the Attic while the first title is instead used as the film's tag line.[4] Ashley Tisdale's involvement in the film was confirmed in January 2008 as she was cast as Bethany Pearson.[3] Robert Hoffman, Carter Jenkins and Austin Butler were later cast in the film. Doris Roberts was signed on to the film in February 2008.[6] MTV confirmed that Josh Peck joined the cast as the voice of the alien Sparks.[7] John Debney composed the original score for the film. Tisdale recorded a song titled "Switch" for the film, which is also included in her second album, Guilty Pleasure. The original motion picture soundtrack was released on August 18, 2009.[8]


Principal photography began at the end of January 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand.[3][9] Auckland-based production company New Upstairs Productions said filming would run for 30–40 days from January 28 to April 18, 2008 with no filming in weekends.[10] The film was set in a rambling old villa transported from Remuera to a farm in North Auckland. The main set was an old manor and they spent $700,000 restoring the house.[10] The main shooting ended in mid-March 2008.[11] Tisdale, Butler and Jenkins went back to the set to shoot last-minutes scenes for the film in April 2009.[12]


The film was released on July 30, 2009, in Russia and Malaysia; July 31, 2009 in United States, Canada, and Bulgaria; August 12 in the United Kingdom; September 3, 2009 in Australia. The film's original release date was in January 2009 but it was pushed back for unknown reasons.[13] The UK release also coincided with a charity auction for Save the Children which teamed up with eBay and 20th Century Fox where various celebrities, including several actors from the movie, sold items from their attics to raise money for the charity.[14]



Reviews of Aliens in the Attic were mixed; the film holds a 32% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 74 reviews with an average critical score of 4.56/10, with the consensus stating "Inoffensive and kid-friendly, this mundane family comedy is light on imagination."[15] Metacritic gives the film a score of 42 based on 10 reviews.[16]

Entertainment Weekly described the film as "a pointless and harmless family adventure that doesn't mentally assault the 12-and-over set and looks like a lot of fun",[17] while San Francisco Chronicle has described the movie as being unoriginal and crowd pleasing.[18]

Variety stated the film doubtless would appeal primarily to a more narrow demographic of tweens and pre-teens and despite Tisdale's presence, it’s difficult to imagine many ticket buyers between the ages of 12 and 18[19] while The New York Times described Jenkins and Butler as the actors with more personality and Hoffman as the actor who provides the film’s occasional funny moments and stated that even though she is credited as one of the main characters, Tisdale spends most of the film off screen.[20]

The Los Angeles Times said the film is "an enjoyable kid-friendly film but not an out-of-this-world classic" and also mentioned the film belonged to Hoffman[21] and Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter said the director John Schultz played everything for laughs and earns a more than a few but tech effects deliver a fair number of those laughs and described the film as an "amusing family comedy".[22] Radio Times gave the film a three out of five stars rating, saying that the film is "a thrilling children's yarn with enough pop-culture references to hold grown-ups' interest".[23]

The Dove Foundation praised the film, saying it is "one of those movies that you find to be better than anticipated" and also said the film draws on realism in family dynamics.[24] Lara Martin of Digital Spy described the film as a "kid-friendly mix of Men in Black crossed with Gremlins with a healthy dose of Home Alone-style violence" and also mentioned that one of the biggest disappointments in the movie is the lack of screen time given to Tisdale, billed as one of the leading actors, who "gets a promising start as she rebels against her parents and struts around in her bikini, but she's quickly relegated to background fodder purely there to provide excess opportunities for the alien-controlled Ricky to shine" and concluded saying it seems "a bizarre and sad waste of her obvious comedic talent".[25] However, The Miami Herald gave a mixed review, saying the film is a "children's movie mix of live-action and animation, it has a few positive messages, a few laughs and a few comic throwdowns".[26]

Box officeEdit

Aliens in the Attic was a minor box office success. In the United States, the film was distributed by 3,106 theaters and grossed $8 million its opening weekend, resulting in No. 5 in the box office.[1] The film grossed the equivalent of US$1.3 million in Russia, US$10 million in the United Kingdom, and a total of US$57 million worldwide total.[1][27]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 3, 2009.

Video gameEdit

A video game based on the film was released on August 4, 2009, developed by Revistronic and published by Playlogic. The game features the storyline of the film and is available for Wii, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and Microsoft Windows. The game also offers players two different gameplay perspectives depending upon which video game platform players choose.[30] The game allows the player to play as Tom, Hannah, Jake, Art, Lee, Bethany or Sparks, Skip, Tazer and Razor across 15 levels.


  1. ^ a b c d Box Office Mojo. Aliens in the Attic.
  2. ^ "Aliens in the Attic". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Kit, Borys. "Tisdale climbs to film in "Upstairs"". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  4. ^ a b c "Fox Heads 'Upstairs' With Burton". Variety. March 2, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  5. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole (January 22, 2007). "Freudenthal to Direct 'Upstairs'". Variety. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  6. ^ Doris Roberts Signs On 'They Came from Upstairs'.
  7. ^ Josh Peck Heads Out Of This World For Ashley Tisdale's Sci-Fi Flick 'Upstairs' Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  8. ^ Aliens in the Attic: Soundtrack.
  9. ^ "Tisdale set to join "They came from Upstairs"". Archived from the original on January 11, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  10. ^ a b Shepheard, Nicola. "Hollywood Movie Filming at Auckland Manor". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  11. ^ "NZ's Just What She's Been Looking For". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  12. ^ Back to 'Aliens in the Attic' Set[permanent dead link]. Retrieved on 2009-07-14.
  13. ^ Vena, Jocelyn.Ashley Tisdale Hones Alien-Fighting Skills In 'They Came From Upstairs'. Retrieved on 2009-08-15.
  14. ^ Celebrities Raid Their Attics For The Children's Society Auction Archived September 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Save The Children website, accessed August 17, 2009
  15. ^ "Aliens in the Attic Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  16. ^ "Aliens in the Attic". Metacritic. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  17. ^ Markovitz, Adam (July 31, 2009). "Aliens in the Attic". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  18. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (August 3, 2009). "Movie review: 'Aliens in the Attic'". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  19. ^ Leydon, Joe (July 31, 2009). "Aliens in the Attic". Variety. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  20. ^ Hale, Mike (July 31, 2009). "Earth in Peril, Children to the Rescue". The New York Times. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  21. ^ Whipp, Glenn (August 9, 2009). "'Aliens in the Attic'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  22. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (July 31, 2009). "Aliens in the Attic -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  23. ^ Staunton, Terry. "Aliens in the Attic". Radio Times.
  24. ^ Aliens in the Attic – Movie Review Archived November 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. The Dove Foundation.
  25. ^ Aliens in the Attic – Movie Review. Digital Spy.
  26. ^ Aliens in the Attic – Movie Review. The Miami Herald.
  27. ^ "Movie Aliens in the Attic – Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers. August 14, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  28. ^ Teen Choice Awards Nominees Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine List of Nominees.
  29. ^ Young Artist Awards Nominees Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine List of Nominees.
  30. ^ "Aliens in the Attic Video Game". Archived from the original on July 7, 2009. Retrieved July 2, 2009.

External linksEdit