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Alien invaders run into teen trouble

Most of what passes for children's entertainment in Hollywood leaves me cold nowadays.

Toy Story, brilliant as it was, has a lot to answer for, inspiring a slew of mixed-standard CGI comedies in its wake. But Aliens in the Attic, which takes time to let us get to know the characters, is different -- and its heartwarming tale of family camaraderie brought back nostalgia for my own childhood.

Here, a group of cousins from the Pearson clan are on holiday in a spooky old house in the country. The lead character is Tom (Carter Jenkins), a teenage brain box who gets bad grades so he can look cool. But, don't you know, it'll be his brains which will eventually scupper the evil ambitions of the unwanted visitors from outer space.

Cousin Jake (Austin Butler) is lazy and spoiled, while their other family members are two young lads who don't do much -- until the aliens arrive, of course.

The youngest family member, Hannah (Ashley Boettcher), is a carbon copy of Drew Barrymore in ET.

For teenage boys, there's eye candy in the eldest teenager, Bethany (Ashley Tisdale), who is desperate to have some quality time with her goofy and annoying boyfriend, Ricky Dillman (Robert Hoffman).

Of course, he's up to no good, as he's a college boy and wants to get his wicked way with Bethany. But by the end the cad gets his just desserts, which left my co-audience of kids in fits of giggles.

Scares-wise, the aliens are only two-feet tall -- but they're menacing as they have an array of high-tech weapons, including mind-control machines.

Cue a battle of wits with the kids, as the Pearsons use improvised weapons (think Home Alone here).

The best moments come when the mind machine is used to control the humans -- including Dillman, with hilarious results. Touching and funny, it's a hit for the younger ones and adults alike.

dvd EXTRAS: Includes deleted scenes, alternate ending, gag reel and a few making-of featurettes.