Friday, April 3, 2009

Reel Thoughts: They Came from Outer Space

You’ve got to love a movie featuring a giant Reese Witherspoon, a girl-crazy sea creature, a giant roach-man who sounds like Hugh Laurie and a big, blue, one-eyed Jell-O monster ... especially in 3-D.

Monsters vs. Aliens is a fun-filled DreamWorks cartoon meant to evoke Pixar quality. It doesn’t succeed, but its animation and 3-D effects are amazing nonetheless. What keeps Monsters vs. Aliens down is that its storyline is predictable and not that creative.

When happy bride-to-be Susan (voiced by Witherspoon) is hit by a meteorite on her wedding day, she suddenly starts growing to 49 feet, terrifying her family and fiancé (Paul Rudd), a smarmy news anchor. The government swoops in, hog-ties the bewildered non-bride and carts her off to Area 51, where all monsters are kept and studied. It was determined years ago that humans couldn’t accept the horror of actual monsters, so they’ve been imprisoned ... that is, until an alien invasion prompts the government to use the monsters to save the world. Dr. Cockroach (Laurie), B.O.B. (Seth Rogan), the Missing Link (Will Arnett) and Insectasaurus join Susan, now named Ginormica, to fight a nasty Marvin the Martian type named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson).

There is a lot of fun action and witty dialogue on the way to an ending I am sure you can guess. The usual morals about accepting yourself and not judging others pile up without being too preachy, but I have to agree with a colleague who noted that Susan’s romantic troubles might be too grown-up for kids and too simple for adults. Still, Monsters vs. Aliens uses its 3-D effects very well, and the animation is terrific.

It may not rival Bette vs. Joan, but there is still a lot of bang for your buck in Monsters vs. Aliens.

UPDATE: Monsters vs. Aliens is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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