Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)


There is a lot to like about this animated movie about monsters, despite the fact there is zero involvement from either Disney or Pixar in its production. I do think Dreamworks animation is one of the more underrated animation houses. They gave us Shrek, which were brilliant for the most part, and the likable Kung Fu Panda, along with this very funny film that depicts a government run team of monsters used to get earth out of jams should the need arise.

That need does arise when an evil alien (Rainn Wilson) wants to invade Earth and claim it for himself. The title of the movie should have hopefully given that plot point away. The story opens with Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) getting struck by a meteor on her wedding day. The meteor makes her grow to be 50 feet tall (15.2 metres for all you metrics out there). Susan is recruited to join the secret government run program that trains monsters to protect the earth. Susan, given the name Ginormica, joins the team that also includes an indestructible talking blob named B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), mad scientist/cockroach Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), the half ape/half fish missing link named Link (Wil Arnett) and a massive grub who is attracted to bright lights named Insectasaurus. Together the team must work together to save the world from the evil aliens, and maybe become friends along the way too.

As I’m reading the short description I just wrote for the film, I am reminded how random and funny it was. The idea of monsters is not new, but this film still feels fresh enough to be entertaining. This is mostly due to the very talented voice cast. I don’t usually like Reese Witherspoon, but here she does a good job. Although her role is quite easy as she is not expected to do any of the comedic heavy lifting. When you have a trio like Rogen, Arnett and Laurie, you can probably leave most of the laughs to them. Particularly Laurie, I was very impressed with him. Many people are not aware he is actually British and has a background in comedy. When he started playing grumpy Dr House in the Fox drama that made him a household name, people quickly forgot he had comedic ability. This film is a nice reminder that he can be very funny. I think Eric Bana had the same problem when he made a name for himself in America. Bana was a very famous comedian in Australia before trying drama in the Aussie film Chopper. When that was a success, it is almost as though everyone just forgot that he was actually a very funny actor and can do more than the gritty dramas he was suddenly saddled with.

Monsters vs Aliens is good clean fun, with a nice message about teamwork. It is definitely for kids, but there are enough laughs that adults won’t be tearing their hair out having to sit through this one.

Rating: B-

Monsters vs. Aliens is such a random and weird animated film. The concept of secret government monsters fighting an alien invasion sounds like a plot geared more towards adults than kids. But then, kids like monsters and some like aliens. I suppose the rest is added for the parents’ benefit.

Reese Witherspoon voices Susan Murphy, a woman who is transformed into a not-quite-50-foot woman on her wedding day. She’s quickly whisked away to a secret government facility that houses other monsters: a gelatinous blob named B.O.B. (Seth Rogan); half-man half-cockroach, Dr. Cockroach, PhD (Hugh Laurie); an ancient fish-ape hybrid dubbed “The Missing Link” (Will Arnett); and a giant insect known as Insectosaurus (Conrad Vernon). This unlikely bunch team up to save the planet from an alien invasion and earn their freedom.

The voice cast of Monsters vs Aliens is impressive. It’s a true testament to animation’s popularity that well-known actors seem to flock to these projects. This movie also boasts great performances by Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert, Renee Zellweger, and Jeffery Tambor. Everyone fully commits to the utter wackiness of the story, bringing a lot of fun to the movie.

Still, Monsters never reaches the highs I’ve come to expect from animated films. It’s fun, but less so than I wanted it to be. A lot of the jokes are great, but many more fall flat. This is a movie that’s more for kids than adults, which is perfectly fine. At least you won’t be completely bored to tears by it.

Rating: B-

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