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‘Spaced Invaders’ (G)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 30, 1990

"Spaced Invaders" is a slight, obvious sci-fi parody that would like to be in the same league as "Spaceballs," but doesn't even deserve the comparison. Set in a small Illinois town on Halloween night, it pits human dolts against stupid little green Martians, with the action played out against a 50th-anniversary broadcast of the Orson Welles radio thriller "War of the Worlds."

This is basically a "Saturday Night Live" sketch stretched out to feature-film length, with stock genre characters and (at most) a half-dozen genre-specific punch lines, often delivered in familiar voices: the shade-wearing head Martian, for instance, has watched far too many Jack Nicholson movies.

The Martian crew is the gang that couldn't fly straight, landing on Earth with a pugilist's attitude but no comparable skills. Since it's Halloween, they're mistaken for trick-or-treaters (E.T. -- call your lawyer). Their bravado is dismissed as adolescent behavior, except by the few humans onto the ruse: the alien-bedecked daughter of the new (and recently widowed) town sheriff and a new tyke-pal trapped in the most awful duck costume this side of Howard the; an aging farmer about to lose his farm to a greedy real estate agent (the space ship crash-lands in the barn); and a bumbling deputy sheriff whose car should bear the number 54.

Since this is a thoroughly G movie, the action, dialogue and plot lack offense, but also lack substance. After a short while the visual fun of the mini-Martians diminishes and their constant yammering begins to wear. As for the John Q. Citizens, they're such trigger-happy gun toters that you'll wish the invaders had a little more "Alien" in them.

One of the "Spaced Invaders" running gags is the spaceship's inability to get off the ground. It's an apt metaphor for the film as well.

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