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    Kids vs. Aliens movie review & film summary (2023)

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    This was clearly a DIY production, and most of the film’s budget seems to have gone towards making it as colorful as possible. It’s money well spent, as the in-your-face aesthetic at least partially compensates for the thin plot and cardboard characters. (The dialogue is crude as well, but that fits the overall tone, so it’s not as big of a deal.) Clocking in at 75 minutes, “Kids Vs. Aliens” feels more like a pilot episode than it does a fully realized feature film, not least because there’s more plot implied in the last 30 seconds than actually unfolds in the first 30 minutes. 

    That first half-hour is spent setting up the characters, namely rambunctious preteen Gary (Dominic Mariche) and his teenage sister Samantha (Phoebe Rex), who—in another grand genre-movie tradition—are left unsupervised nearly all of the time by their workaholic parents. Technically, Samantha is in charge. But she’s a big kid herself, with interests that include cool swords and pro wrestling. And she enthusiastically participates in the movies that Gary and his pals Jack (Asher Grayson Percival) and Miles (Ben Tector) are always cooking up in a barn on Gary and Samantha’s family property. That is, until brooding bad boy Billy (Calem MacDonald) comes along.

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    “Kids Vs. Aliens” takes a childlike view of Samantha’s subsequent turn into teen angst; in this movie’s mind, growing up means smoking cigarettes, wearing lots of eye makeup, and abandoning your true friends and interests. The moral dimensions of the plot are simplistic as well: Billy is an unequivocal villain—all of the teens in this movie except for Samantha are sociopaths, actually—and the movie reflects Gary’s hurt feelings about what he sees as his sister’s betrayal. She does get a chance to redeem herself, however, when the aliens belatedly show up halfway through the movie. 

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