Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Deep in suburban America, a trio of 13-year-old boys find a cute alien who’s crashed to earth. But as they make friends with the visitor, sinister forces of adult officialdom swoop in. You can imagine ET phoning his legal team, but although this kids’ sci-fi adventure is derivative, its characters are drawn with more care and insight than you’d expect.
‘Just kids’ is all this lot ever hear from patronising grown-ups, so the story’s ongoing chase scenario, all filmed on their smartphones, gives them some experience of the big bad world (driving cars, venturing into bars). That yearning to be taken seriously will chime with the intended PG audience. And although the boys’ bond with the creature (a sort of metallic baby owl) generates little aww-factor, the credible special effects and agreeable cast almost make up for it. This is a surprisingly likeable little movie.