Luis & the Aliens (3 stars)

Luis & the Aliens

Likeable but derivative extraterrestrial animation pitched at the under tens

Also known as Luis and His Friends from Outer Space, this animated feature from Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein and co-director Sean McCormack is a European co-production that rides on the coattails of the current animation boom. Mixing elements of Monsters vs Aliens, Home and Minions, but also recalling vintage Tex Avery cartoon slapstick, it's a slight entertainment aimed at the under tens.

Luis (voiced by Callum Maloney) is an 11-year-old boy who, like his widowed scientist father, is obsessed with the idea of being visited by aliens. Unfortunately for Luis, his school has taken an intrusive interest in his home-life. Three blob-like beings crash their spaceship into his house and Luis agrees to help them towards their goal: a home-shopping channel product they require. The aliens have a useful ability to shape-shift into the form of animals and even people, but a well-meant attempt to replicate Luis's father for a crunch meeting with the school principal ends in disaster, and the discovery of a more vicious species of alien already in their midst.

The Lauenstein twins won an Oscar for their 1989 short film Balance and, while animation has certainly moved on since then, Luis & the Aliens has a professional and attractive sheen, as well as easy-to-like, accessible characters. The repeated gag, in which aliens struggle to maintain the appearance of various individuals, is a good one, even if the introduction of the rather less sympathetic extraterrestrials represents too much of a dark change of tone.

What's frustrating about Luis & the Aliens is how derivative it is; despite its potentially interesting cultural pedigree, the lack of a distinct flavour is unlikely to win too many admirers. That said, as a time-passer, it offers some shapeless fun for easily-amused kids.

General release from Fri 24 Aug.

Luis and the Aliens

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • Germany / Luxembourg
  • 1h 26min
  • U
  • Directed by: Christoph Lauenstein, Wolfgang Lauenstein
  • Cast: Callum Maloney, Dermot Magennis, Ian Coppinger
  • UK release: 24 August 2018

Luis (Maloney) is an 11-year-old boy obsessed with aliens, who gets visited by some shape-changing extra-terrestrial blobs. It has an attractive sheen and likeable characters, but the tone is uncertain and it’s too derivative and unsure of itself to win many admirers.