A sweet-‘n-simple look at sibling rivalry and, well, aliens, the Disney Channel’s “Stepsister From Planet Weird” is an innocent fluff job targeted squarely at young femmes who pass notes in homeroom. Wisely staying away from any Afterschool Special seriousness, quickly paced project still offers up an opinion on “being yourself” without hammering home the few poignant points it makes. Telepic isn’t quite out of this world, narratively speaking, but it’s pleasant enough for the Britney Spears set.
It also contains another fine perf from Courtnee Draper, a gifted tyro who stars in the cable web’s original series, “The Jersey.” Her take on a reasonably confident girl is “Stepsister’s” most appealing point and should attract some notice from casting directors who want more from their junior misses than just tube-top beauty.
Life is relatively normal for Megan Larson (Draper), a mature preteen who lives with her brother, Trevor (Myles Jeffrey), and flighty mother, Kathy (Khrystyne Haje).
Her happiness is tested, however, when mom falls in love with Cosmo Cola (Lance Guest), a wide-eyed beach freak who acts like a forty-something jester and hastily proposes marriage.
The only catch? Cosmo and his daughter Ariel (Tamara Hope) are from another world, so things aren’t so easy. And besides, this little contrast cramps Megan’s style, since she now has to make room for someone pret-tier and more popular who occasionally turns into a bubble and uses root beer as brain fuel.
Despite some initial tugs-of-war with fashion and boys, the two even-tually bond when they first try to stop the approaching wedding but then realize how happy their (very) different parents are. It’s an important lesson in interplanetary camaraderie.
Director Steven Boyum doesn’t get to work with many magical touches here: the effects are low-rent, music is ho-hum, and the Queensland, Aus-tralia, locations are very plain (it’s supposed to be set in southern Califor-nia).
But “Stepsister” definitely has that certain goofy charm that makes so much of Disney’s fare light and likable: everyone smiles, nobody gets hurt, and fantasy looms large. Not even a weak, take-me-to-your-leader ending can undo the small pleasures.
Besides Draper, Hope is perfect as the enigmatic “visitor,” while Haje and Guest (M.I.A., it seems, since 1984’s “The Last Starfighter”) are genuinely tolerant and tempered adults.
Only technical hiccup is the obvious attempt by some locally chosen thesps to perfect American speech patterns; their efforts are hardly convincing.