The perky little 1950s-style sci-fi drama Alien Trespass follows soon after the galactic launch of Monsters vs. Aliens, so audiences now have a choice of movies about one-eyed slimy things. Ghota, the ravenous people-eating mutant from outer space who crash-lands in California’s Mojave Desert one starry 1957 night in the live-action Trespass, has none of the verbal charms of Seth Rogen’s blobulous B.O.B. in the animated Monsters. He doesn’t speak, just ogles and gobbles, leaving behind a telltale puddle of ooze. But in this respectful homage to mid-20th-century B movies, the baffled locals who investigate the mysterious disappearance of fellow townsfolk talk out their hopes and hunches in the clean language of American pluck. And that warm tone, along with the picture’s bright, saturated, anti-CGI look, is a welcome respite from jokes, irony, and the postmodern malaise of know-it-all-ness.
The characters in Alien Trespass (directed by X-Files producing alum R.W. Goodwin) are specimens of Sputnik-era determination, led by a gung-ho Eric McCormack. He plays the dual roles of distracted, pipe-smoking astronomer Dr. Ted Lewis and the come-in-peace alien Urp, who temporarily takes over Lewis’ body. A good, gruff police chief (Dan Lauria) and a more sinister cop (Robert Patrick, who better?) stand for the law. And in a gender update, the designated female honey (Jenni Baird) doesn’t scream, or trip and twist her ankle: She thinks on her feet, helping Urp as he tries to save Earth. B+