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<i>I Am Number Four</i>: A Deceptively Enjoyable Guilty Pleasure

Does this ever happen to you? Ever see a movie that is widely panned by not only critics, but by everyone else of sound mind and body that you know, and yet you still kind of loved it? Even though you know it's a manipulatively pandering piece of opportunistic garbage? It's embarrassing, but it happens sometimes, and it happened to me with I am Number Four. I'll attempt to explain why now.

The plot's kind of convoluted on paper, but it boils down to this: Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) is a teen alien being hunted by an evil race of rival aliens, and this hunt is taking place on earth, where the bad aliens want the planet's resources and the good aliens are the only ones strong enough to defeat them and save mankind. Pettyfer and his guardian (Timothy Olyphant) settle into a small Ohio town to hide out and develop Pettyfer's powers, but once there Number Four goes to high school and befriends a likeable nerd/extraterrestrial conspiracy theorist, and a beautiful wallflower/photography enthusiast (Dianna Agron). The former become his sidekick, the latter becomes his soulmate in an admittedly very Twilight-esque bonding-for-life situation. He also adopts a stray beagle. A very cute one.

Eventually the bad aliens find them, and they have it out in the middle of the night, in a small-town high school, and you don't have to wait until the credits roll to know that Marti Noxon co-wrote the screenplay (with Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar), as the final action plays out like the most expensive Buffy battle ever. And I mean that in a good way -- it felt like such a fun throwback, and Noxon's (love her or hate her) fingerprints were all over it. Ditto for the wise-cracking evil aliens, who were so Buffy Goes to Outer Space I couldn't help but enjoy myself every time they were onscreen. I mean, I hate myself for it, but... I couldn't help it!

As for director D.J. Caruso, though he doesn't make excellent films, he knows how to make fun films, and that's exactly what this is. You should know that this movie exists solely to manipulate you and take your money, but so do a lot of movies -- at least this one bothered to hire competent writers and a director who can direct action. And when has Twilight ever respected you that much?

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