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The Independent Critic

Ward Roberts, Samantha Sloyan, Christian Badami, Devin Barry, Jeremiah Birkett, Travis Betz, Jhey Castles, Dustin Fasching, Aaron Gaffey, Jan Hoag, Sarah Lassez, Richard Riehle, Mike C. Nelson, Bo Roberts
Ward Roberts
Ward Roberts, Mike C. Nelson
95 Mins.
Buffalo 8 

 Movie Review: Invaders From Proxima B 
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It's no secret that I've long been a fan of the work of Indiana native Ward Roberts (Little Big Top, Westworld), however, I'm not sure I've ever had as much fun with a Roberts project as I had with Invaders From Proxima B. 

Set for its North American VOD release with indie distributor Buffalo 8, Invaders From Proxima B debuts exclusively on Fandango at Home on May 31, 2024 and it's practically a sure thing to be a fantastic discovery for families looking for ways to entertain the kiddoes during these Summer months. The film is a family friendly science fiction comedy centered around a wise-cracking alien named Chuck (Roberts) who crashes into the backyard of the Jankins family (Roberts, Samantha Sloyan). Caught up in an increasingly weird situation, the Jankins team up with their new otherworldly friend to battle a dangerous array of weirdos who show up in hot pursuit of their furry friend and maybe even the world. 

It's difficult to describe just how much I enjoyed Invaders From Proxima B, a spirited and entertaining film that continues Roberts's long history of creating compelling stories with engaging characters. A native of Peru, Indiana, Roberts directs Invaders From Proxima B from his ownscript and produced the film under his DrexelBox films alongside fellow Indiana University grad Mike C. Nelson and longtime collaborator and also a Hoosier Travis Betz. 

Roberts first made a big splash on the Hoosier film scene with his debut feature, 2005's Little Big Top. Filmed onsite at the Peru Amateur Circus and starring the late and truly great genre icon Sid Haig, that film premiered at the Academy Award-qualifying Heartland Film Festival. This film had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival and was quickly snatched up by the wise souls at Buffalo 8, an ideal indie home for Roberts and Invaders From Proxima B. 

If you've ever followed Roberts on social media, then you'll likely agree that Invaders From Proxima B is a delightful progression for the actor/writer/director who has written and directed Little Big Top, Dust Up, and several shorts while making appearances in such television series as Westworld, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. among others. 

Roberts wears his love for his family on his sleeve and now that cinematic sleeve includes appearing alongside daughter Bo, whom it feels like I've watched grow up, in this delightful film that feels like a bedtime story brought to life in glorious ways. 

Roberts gives an inspired dual performance here as both Howie Jankins and the voice of the otherworldly Chuck (his real name doesn't translate on Earth, ya' know?). Films like this seem to always make one of two mistakes - they either forget that they're ultimately made for families or they infantilize the family experience. Invaders From Proxima B is both absurd and yet it feels wonderfully real and grounded in honest relationships and a genuinely wonderful story. Roberts's performance indicates he knows exactly what he's going for here and he brings it to life brilliantly. 

However, the film's real gem may actually be Bo Roberts herself. The young Roberts is sweet, a little vulnerable, and has surprisingly great comic timing for such a young performer. It'll be interesting to watch and see if she continues her interest in the film world moving forward. 

Samantha Sloyan (The Haunting of Hill House, The Fall of the House of Usher) is also terrific as Jane Jankins, a perfect combo of maternal meets bewilderment meets comic mayhem. 

As seems to be always true of DrexelBox films, the ensemble is strong across the board including Jeremiah Birkett as Nathan Droogal, longtime great character actor Richard Riehle as Willy Felson, Mike C. Nelson as Marvin Felson, Sarah Lassez as Ester Terrestrial and a host of others. 

Lensing by Travis Betz made me delirously happy with its imaginative and energized way of capturing every humorous and heatrtfelt moment here. Original music by J.S. Greenier amps up the film's excitement and carries its emotional rhythms sublimely. Kudos as well for Tom Devlin's special effects makeup and Jacob Raducz's animation. 

The indie world isn't often gifted with genuinely entertaining family friendly sci-fi, however, that's exactly what happens with Invaders From Proxima B. An absolute winner from beginning to end, Invaders From Proxima B is an out of this world gift for the entire family and here's hoping it finds the audience it so richly deserves. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic