Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Kinda Feel Left Out – Sundance 2023

(L-R) Emma Tremblay as Itsy and Jacob Buster as Calvin in the sci-fi/comedy, ALIENS ABDUCTED MY PARENTS AND NOW I FEEL KINDA LEFT OUT, a Jespers Comet Films, LLC release. Photo courtesy of Photographer Steve Olpin and Jespers Comet Films, LLC.

Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Kinda Feel Left Out is a comedy that could have very well been released by Amblin in the 1980s.

I feel like there’s some sort of rule where everyone must try their hand at paying homage to Steven Spielberg at some point in their career. Or, at the very least, films paying homage to the films that inspired filmmakers to get into filmmaking. The Spielbergian sort of movies are right up my alley. Shawn Levy did this last year with the Ryan Reynolds-starring The Adam Project. This year, it’s a film with one of the longest titles I’ve seen in recent years. There’s at least one other film that played Sundance with a title just as long, if not longer. Do filmmakers no longer have any consideration for SEO-friendly film titles? I kid, I kid…but now I kinda feel left out.

Itsy Levan (Emma Tremblay) is not all that happy about her family leaving the city and buying a place in Pebble Falls, a small town in the middle of nowhere. Like anyone who finds themselves in this unhappiest of circumstances, Itsy also thinks her life is over. She starts coming around after meeting their weird neighbor, Calvin Kipler (Jacob Buster). Calvin has quite the story because he is of the belief that aliens abducted his parents. He’s not only obsessed with space but has spent just about every day waiting for Jesper’s Comet to make its arrival again. After all, he’s been on his own since its last sighting in his neck of the woods. Unfortunately for Calvin, nobody else believes him.

Where Calvin thinks he can get his revenge on the aliens–if it was even aliens at all–Itsy looks at it as a way of setting up a path towards a journalism program in New York. Sure, she thinks Calvin’s plan is crazy. Who wouldn’t?!? Even if it is for her own selfish reasons, Itsy decides to give Calvin a chance when nobody else will. Anyway, they bond over their newfound friendship and more.

Austin Everett’s script is set in the 2020s but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Like I said, this is a film that Steven Spielberg might have produced or executive produced in the 1980s. Throw in the broken family trope and it fits right in with the Amblin films of that era. Behind the camera, director Jake Van Wagoner and cinematographer Van Wagoner film this as a way of paying homage to the Oscar-winning filmmaker. The script is a funny comedy at times but it’s also a film that can be very heartbreaking, too. I mean, hello, aliens may have left Calvin an orphan at a young age! On paper, it appears to be a coming-of-age comedy but the film transcends the genre–it is so much more.

If you’re coming for either Will Forte or Elizabeth Mitchell, I must warn you now that the two are barely even in the film. Meanwhile, the film offers a chance for both Emma Tremblay and Jacob Buster to really break out as stars. If the last name doesn’t give it away, Emma is Jacob’s older sister.

DIRECTOR: Jake Van Wagoner
SCREENWRITER: Austin Everett
CAST: Emma Tremblay, Jacob Buster, Kenneth Cummins, with Will Forte and Elizabeth Mitchell

Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Kinda Feel Left Out held its world premiere durng the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in the Kids program. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.