Monsters vs. AliensBy Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action, some crude humor, and mild language
Release Date: March 27, 2009
Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
Plot Synopsis: On her wedding day, Susan is hit by a glowing meteorite and she mysteriously expands until she's 49-feet-11-inches tall, destroying the wedding chapel. The government takes her away, locking her up in a special secret facility where they keep the rest of America's monsters, including the mad scientist Dr. Cockroach, the blue blob B.O.B., the fish man The Missing Link and a gigantic grub named Insectasauraus. Susan, now known as Ginormica, thinks she may be locked up forever but an alien invasion by the nefarious Galaxhar means now the President needs the monsters' help to defeat the evil foes.
Sex/Nudity: Susan loves her fiancé Derek, and they do a little kissing, although it becomes clear pretty quickly that the only person Derek loves is himself.
Violence/Gore: Galaxhar and his giant robot droid destroy much of San Francisco, including tearing up Golden Gate Bridge, though Susan is able to save all of the people. Susan and the other monsters commit some accidental or mild comic destruction of their own, such as crashing helicopters and wrecking property.
Profanity: Very mild questionable language: B.O.B. mentions Susan's "boobies" (but to mistakenly identify her as male) and Galaxhar curses with the evocative phrase "what the flagnog!"
Which Kids Will Like It? From the novelty 3-D glasses to the silly voices of the characters, this movie will be like catnip for elementary age children. Even younger children might find some of the slapstick amusing, but most of the more complex humor will sail over their heads.
Will Parents Like It? A lot of the B-movie references and snarky humor is targeted towards the adults in the audience (like a comment about how dicey the Tenderloin area of San Francisco can be), so it's a movie intended for adults as much as their kids.
Kaboose Review: From the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to Swamp Thing, American audiences have had a long-standing love affair with B-movie monsters. The gooier, sillier and more fantastical the better--especially if the sci-fi phenomenon originates from outer space. The animation team at DreamWorks--creators of Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda--have taken all of these timeworn sci-fi clichés and, after stripping them of any political or social commentary undertones, turned them into goofy children's entertainment.
With a star-studded voices cast and eye-popping 3-D animation technology, Monsters vs. Aliens will mesmerize children under 12 and give their parents a few chuckles as well.
Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon is the voice of our heroine, Susan, a young woman from Modesto, California about to marry her pompous weatherman boyfriend, Derek (Paul Rudd). But just before the ceremony, Susan is struck by a glowing chunk of moon rock and inconveniently, she expands to the monstrous height of 49-feet-11-inches (just shy of the 50 Foot Woman's record). Whisked away to a secret government prison, Susan discovers she has been classified as a monster, one of five kept in an army prison away from an unsuspecting public. At first her fellow monsters horrify her, but soon they become friends and when the alien Galaxhar threatens to takeover Earth, Susan and the monsters band together to defend the planet.
The filmmakers did an excellent job casting some of the funniest and most distinctive actors working today as the voices for this film. But their talents will probably be lost on the young audience members, it's really only parents who would find it amusing that Rainn Wilson of The Office is Galaxhar or that the Comedy Central faux pundit Stephen Colbert plays the ineffectual, idiotic American president (who plays a sweet version of the theme to Beverly Hills Cop on the synthesizer). Unfortunately, the characters themselves don't make too much of an impression individually. You root for the monsters as a group, but none of them are particularly charming, except maybe for the voiceless grub-turned-butterfly Insectasaurus. For a giant furry bug, he's pretty darn cute.
The movie does insert some nice girl-positive messages about not living in the shadow of your boyfriend via the character of Susan, who satisfyingly kicks dopey Derek to the curb after she saves the world. The story also underlines the idea of accepting yourself as you are--another solid, though unoriginal, moral for kid's entertainment.
Directed by: Rob Letterman
Cast: Reese Witherspoon (Susan/Ginormica), Seth Rogan (B.O.B.), Hugh Laurie (Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D.), Will Arnett (The Missing Link), Kiefer Sutherland (General W.R. Monger), Rainn Wilson (Galaxhar), Stephen Colbert (The President), Paul Rudd (Derek Dietl)
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.