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Monsters vs. Aliens 3-D (2009) - Movie Review

By Widge - posted 04.09.09 @ 3:14 am
Monsters vs. Aliens poster art

Written by: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Maya Forbes, Rob Letterman & Wallace Wolodarsky, based on a story by Letterman and Conrad Vernon
Directed by: Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert, Rainn Wilson

My Advice: Matinee it.

It's Susan's (Witherspoon) wedding day. Everything's perfect. Mostly. And then out of a clear blue sky, a freak accident (no offense) happens and Susan finds herself suddenly huge. In fact, 50 foot tall? Mmmmmm could be. This, unfortunately, puts her in the jurisdiction of General W.R. Monger (Sutherland), whose mission is to lock all monsters away from the public eye. However, when a bigass robot lands on Earth looking for something and tearing up the landscape, Monger convinces The President (Colbert) that the only hope of stopping the invader is Monger's group of monsters. In addition to Susan, there's the amphibian The Missing Link (Arnett), the half-man half-roach all-mad-scientist Dr. Cockroach (Laurie), and B.O.B. (Rogen), a talking blob. Oh, and the even more giant kaiju Insectosaurus.

While it's not a Pixar film--and was never intended to be one (and I mean that in style rather than in the obvious way)--it's not the simplistic green ogre either. So DreamWorks has managed to take the sort of geek conversational fodder that is probably happening somewhere nightly in the world--"What if we got a bunch of B-Movie monsters and had them fight aliens?"--and make that into a film. And it would be easy to do this with the full-on linear go-there-and-come-back mentality of a Shrek, but instead they saw fit to give us more. The film is family friendly, in that there's enough there to satisfy both kids and adults--and not an overdose of fart humor. It's also just fun--I highly recommend seeing it in a cinema with kids so you can see just how much they're into it. At our showing, they were having a blast.

The voices are all excellent, with the stand-out probably being Rogen's BOB, whose pick-up line scene at a pool party is fantastic. Also of scary note is Monger--because he sounds bloody well nothing like Kiefer Sutherland. And kudos must be given for casting Stephen Colbert as The President. The story, the villain, the heroes--it's honestly like "My First Doom Patrol." And if you didn't know what goofiness was in store (and indeed, Susan's introduction to the military base is surprisingly dark), then a Harold Faltermeyer joke will put you in your place very quickly. Don't worry that the kids will get lost with it, because there was a video game joke later that put me in my age-place sure enough.

Certainly the story has a heart and it's actually more than in the right place--it thankfully won't annoy the crap out of you. And it's no message that hasn't been told before and no doubt better, but I was having too much to care.

Also of note is the fact that the film was in digital 3-D, which was fantastic. I don't know how people can complain that it's a distraction and unnecessary. Not to sound like a bitchy neophile or anything, but didn't they say the same thing about the talkies? As with Bolt, it added depth and wasn't a lot of "ooh, I'm throwing things at the audience's faces" every five seconds. So I was fine with it.

If you are looking for a diversionary flick you can take the kids to and everybody comes out having had a good time, this is perfect. And if you haven't spawned yet, then you'll probably enjoy it even more.

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Widgett Walls is Need Coffee's Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. He is the author of the novel Mystics on the Road to Vanishing Point, and two collections of short stories, Magnificent Desolation and Something Else: The Complete First Season. He is also co-author of the children's book There's a Zombie in My Treehouse! All of those books are available in paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon. He is also the narrator and publisher of the first unabridged recording of Seneca's letters, available here. He is active on both Twitter and Facebook. (If you befriend him on Facebook, do say you came via Need Coffee.) He lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He hardly ever sleeps.

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A Lone Voice in the Wilderness

    Overall, cute movie and your review is spot on. My kids weren't blown away, but they enjoyed it. My only complaint was some of the jokes planted for us adults. Referencing current political fodder is too easy and dates the movie for future viewings. If the references aren't slipped in just right they pull me out of the film and back into the real world I'm trying to escape at $9.50 a ticket plus snacks.

    Comment by Sam — April 11, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

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