Posted by: Jen Fedorowich | April 1, 2009

Review : Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

“What do people scream when they see you coming?”
monsters_vs_aliens_ver6

Monsters vs. Aliens

Director(s): Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon

Writer(s): Maya Forbes & Wolodarsky

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie

Rating: 

I am a sucker for 3D. Not for children’s films though. (Or children for that matter.) I have to want to see something pretty bad to sit in a theater full of snot-nosed kids. That was this movie. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Dreamworks animation by any means. Shrek was not funny. (But fans will be happy to know that 2 MORE SEQUELS are planned.) But voice talents by Will Arnett, Seth Rogen & Paul Rudd?! Well, how can a girl decline? I should also note that Stephen Colbert plays The President, which automatically calls for laughter.

The Rundown

It’s Susan Murphy’s (Witherspoon) wedding day. And she’s set to wed an unbelievable egomaniac of a Weatherman Derek Dietl (Rudd). But before he make it to the altar, she is struck by a giant meteorite from outer space. When saying her vows, Susan starts glowing green and grows to an incredible 49 feet 11 inches, sending attendees into a frenzy. After emerging from the demolished church, Susan is tranquilized and taken to a secret government compound where she soon meets the other monsters. Soon Susan (and the audience) are introduced to B.O.B (Rogen) – a brainless, indestructible blob, Dr. Cockroach PhD (Laurie) – the world’s smartest man who turned himself into a cockroach and The Missing Link (Arnett) – a thawed out fish/ape/man/thing. Rounding out the gang is Insectosaurus, a giant grub fascinated by bright lights.

When an alien named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) discovers quantonium radiation on Earth, he deploys a gigantic robot to extract it from it’s source. Well, that source just happens to be Susan. The robot begins destroying everything in sight, resisting any attempt of attack from the military. Eventually, General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), the head of the monster facility, convinces the President to unleash the monsters to take down the robot. Arriving in San Francisco, the gang successfully defeat the robot, destroying the Golden Gate Bridge in the process. No quantonium and a destroyed robotic probe piss Gallazhar right off.

After returning home to her family and friends, Susan is dumped by Derek. It’s mostly because he’s a prick. Meanwhile, Susan’s parents are politely trying host a party for the other monsters, who innocently cause a wave of panic throughout the neighborhood. Suddenly, Susan is abducted by Gallaxhar, who shoots down Insectosaurus in his attempt to rescue her.

Gallaxhar, being a massive tool, extracts the quantonium from Susan’s body, shrinking her to normal size. He then proceeds to clone himself a million times over in the hopes to infiltrate Earth.
Now, if you have half a brain – you know how this movie will turn out. (It’s the same plot line every Romantic Comedy follows. They meet, fall in love, have a fight, and then get married.) The rag tag group of monsters make it aboard the ship, rescue Susan and activate the ship’s self-destruction. Eventually Susan beats the shit out of Gallazhar and steals back the quantonium, once again making her a massive beast of a woman. The monsters leap out of the exploding ship, only to be saved by Insectosaurus, who is now a butterfly!

Upon landing on solid ground, Susan rejects Derek’s proposition of reconciliation only before flicking him a million feet into the air. At that moment, the team is informed of an attack on Paris and set off on a new journey. (I smell a sequel! I mean, if they’re going to make ANOTHER Madagascar, why not cash in.)

The Breakdown

Writing

It’s your typical animated Dreamworks film. They try (sometimes too hard) to make it a family experience. Majority of the film is directed at children, but many one-liners and cultural references are thrown out for the adults. Admittedly, there were many times I laughed out-loud – mostly due to Colbert’s President and Rogen’s dim-witted B.O.B. I felt that the writers Forbes (The Rocker) & Wolodarsky (Wally in The Darjeeling Limited!) crammed morality down our throats too hard, insisting the tell old tale “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Sometimes the bits and pop-culture references become redundant, much in same vein as Shrek or Bee Movie. The duration of the movie I had my fingers crossed (not literally) that Will Arnett would begin shouting “C’MON!”, but I was sorely let down.

Animation / 3D

3D is the selling point, don’t kid yourself. Without it, Aliens vs. Monsters is just another witty children’s film not unlike any other film Dreamworks has released in the past 10 years. Slapping on those glasses though, transports you into the film. You feel drenched in debris, you feel as though you’re being chased by a giant robot and feel as though you’re joining in on the battle with the good guys. I always wondered about people with glasses in 3D features though. What if they refuse to wear contacts? Do you wear your 3D glasses over your other glasses? Or do you try to watch it without? (I tried, and it gives you a headache.) I suppose that’s why they released it in both formats, for all those suckers with 4 eyes. (I’m allowed to say that, for a I wear glasses.)
The animation is nothing to write home about, nothing new we haven’t seen. The film delivers on it’s title though, feverishly displaying the battle between Aliens vs. Monsters. But I’m beginning to gain sympathy for all Aliens. With the exception of E.T. – they get nothing but a bad reputation. Maybe THAT’s why they keep abducting people.

Casting

This is one stacked cast. A cast full of people I absolutely love. Arrested Development alum Will Arnett & Jeffery Tambour, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd & The Office alum Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms and John Krazinski. And it keeps going…Reese Witherspoon (whose perky voice works wonderfully with animation), Stephen Colbert, Amy Poelher, Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie and Renee Zellwegger. Like I said, stacked.
I think Dreamworks is banking on a large draw from Gen-X and Y’ers, coming fresh off of releases of Pineapple Express on DVD, the theatrical release of I Love You, Man and members of the Colbert Nation. The main monsters are perfectly casted, with Rogen’s gelatinous blob garnering the most laughs. I’m sure they just put a mic in front of him for an hour or so and just let him laugh. That laugh, just so dumb, gets me everytime. Arnett plays The Missing Link closely to Gob Bluth, exuding the same charm and arrogance of his heinous magician.

Overall Experience

If you’re in the mood to shut your brain off for 2 hours, then I suggest Aliens vs. Monsters. It’s not a bad thing to do once in awhile. It’s full of cute, humorous moments, which almost all viewers will enjoy. There’s just enough merry mischief here to satisfy, even if you’re way past wearing Velcro shoes. I recommend seeing the film in 3D, because it adds another level of enjoyment to the film. (Plus the glasses shield your face if you’re embarrassed about attending a children’s movie.) One piece of advice though; make sure you don’t sit near a spastic child with a full cup of Fruitopia.

– Jen

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