Sundance 2023

Kid’s Selection

“Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out”


Holding the honor of having the best movie title of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out” is a funny and charming little film that was a welcome surprise.

Written by Austin Everett and directed by Jake Van Wagoner, this is the type of well-written youthful Sci-Fi comedy that 80’s filmmakers did so well.

The tone is light and, unlike most youth-oriented films today, the characters are crafted honestly. The young people in this film aren’t “movie kids”, they have real personalities.

Itsy Levan (Emma Tremblay) is drawn to neighbor and classmate Calvin Kipler (Jacob Buster), a bit of an outcast to most of their school due to his obsession with astronomy.

Calvin is awaiting the next passing of Jesper’s Comet because aliens abducted his parents the last time it passed. The young man readies himself in the hopes of getting them back.

The inquisitive Itsy certainly likes the young man but jumps at the chance to help him and write about their adventure, putting her closer to the dream of being a journalist.

With Itsy’s precocious little brother Evan (Kenneth Cummins) in tow, the two budding adventurers set out on a road of discovery that will hold something much more revealing than aliens.

The young cast is a delight. Tremblay and Buster have a good chemistry and Cummins brings natural humor to his character.

The adult actors do very well in their small but important roles.

Matt Biedel and Hailey Smith are fun as Itsy and Evan’s parents. The two play a couple who love their kids and want to be good parents while both setting boundaries and encouraging their interests. Much like the parents played by Colleen Camp and Frederic Forrest on Martha Coolidge’s 1983 classic “Valley Girl”, the screenplay doesn’t make this mom and dad out-of-touch goofballs. It was nice to see such care go into the creation of the characters.

Will Forte and Elizabeth Mitchell play Calvin’s parents. Both are engaging in their short time on screen and in different ways, their roles are the essence of the film.

Both Forte and Mitchell are the key to certain mysteries both of this world and beyond.

As movie lovers, we have been down this road many times. Joe Dante, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and John Badham filled the movie screens of the 1980’s with stories of exuberant kids and teens going on wondrous adventures.

Jake Von Wagoner is obviously a disciple of these types of pictures and his film is a loving homage to them.

The director and screenwriter don’t feel the need to “go big” with this story. Their focus is on creating relatable characters to blend with the fantastical elements, and they succeed.

“Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out” (I love to say that title!) is a fresh, funny, and tender film.

This one doesn’t try to change the world. This is a satisfying little picture populated with sweet characters. I’m glad to have spent some time with them.


Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out

Written by Austin Everett

Directed by Jake Von Wagoner

Starring Emma Tremblay, Jacob Buster, Kenneth Cummins. Will Forte, Elizabeth Mitchell

NR, 87 Minutes, Good Guys Productions/Kaleidoscope Pictures/ Little Wagon Films