Picks and Pans Review: Spaced Invaders

updated 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/14/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Douglas Barr, Royal Dano

Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this film's creatures are a combination of puppetry, electronics and human actors. And they end up spending lots of time in scenes so dark it's hard to tell what's going on. The somber mood generated by that shortcoming, perhaps designed to mask the characters' artificiality, makes this easygoing film less enjoyable than it might be.

Directed by Patrick Read Johnson, who worked on the effects in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, it is about a Martian ship that lands near an Illinois town.

The jokes are mild. A corn-pone local spends the movie looking around and saying, "What the hell is that's One Martian keeps saying, "Prepare to die, earth scum." Another of the little monsters wears a Lakers shirt and affects a Jack Nicholson accent for the whole film (Kevin Thompson, a regular on Growing Pains, does the voice).

Barr, who has a recurring role on TV's Designing Women, is a pleasant presence as the sheriff, and character actor Dano grizzles away as a farmer who's being foreclosed by a nasty banker.

It all might boil down into a nice ALF episode. As is, it's too long, too lame, too dark. Turn on the lights; the party's over. (PG)

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