Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) [Review]

94 min March 27, 2009 | | | |

Plot: When a meteorite lands on Susan (Witherspoon) on the day of her wedding, Susan is covered with an alien liquid that mutates her into a monster-sized version of herself. Taken by a secret government agency, she meets a ragtag bunch of mutants captured – and hidden away from the public – for over 50 years. But, when an alien attack looms, a frantic call from The President (Colbert) offers these monsters a chance to become heroes.

Reviewed

Well, our Summer At The Movies ’09 seems to have hit a bump in the road. What with the bad economy – and a planned trip to Vermont in a couple of weeks – we didn’t have the extra cash to go see a movie in the theaters last week. We’ve set aside some cash for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), but that’s all left us rather strapped recently.

Wanting to continue our movie marathon despite this recent hiccup, this week we decided to look at the “cheap seats” theater (ie…second-run theater) and see if they had anything to offer…and stumbled across a film we’d been wanting to see for a while, Monsters Vs. Aliens. Since it doesn’t hit DVD until September, we figured it was our perfect choice this week.

But would our slim pickings prove fruitful, or should we have just stayed home?

The animated voices are numerous in Monsters Vs. Aliens, and the famous names perform their jobs with varying degrees of success. While Kiefer Sutherland is a stand-out as the soldier-for-life General W. R. Monger (warmonger – get it?), barking orders like it’s his favorite past-time, some of the other voice cast isn’t as easily recognizable.

“House, M.D.” (TV) himself, Hugh Laurie, is largely unrecognizable as Dr. Cockroach, for example, but Reese Witherspoon as Susan/Ginormica nearly plays herself, to varying degrees of enthusiasm. She seems at her most vibrant as Susan, playing a character she has played thousands of times before, but she’s a bit off her game as Ginormica, the 50-foot tall strong woman Susan turns into. At first, this works for the character, since the events happening to her are far and away from her normal life, and she and Witherspoon struggle with accepting the character’s new fate. Eventually, however, Susan comes to terms with her new lifestyle, and the old sappy Reese (recognizable from her plethora of romantic comedies) comes back, to the somewhat chagrin of the audience.

Seth Rogen plays a blob named BOB, and if there was ever a more fitting role for him, viewers will be hard-pressed to find it. Since his character actually has no brain, he’s given somewhat free reign to come up with some zany stuff, and viewers should enjoy his “let loose” persona. True, not all of the jokes coming from BOB are right on the money, but when he hits the big joke, viewers won’t mind having had to wade through some of the rest.

Stephen Colbert gets a chance to shine here as well, voicing the President in a role that gets more laughs than any other, despite much shorter screen time. Thanks to his years on “The Colbert Report” (TV), he knows how to tell a joke well, and even his asides (“I’m a brave President” he shouts after pumping an alien robot full of lead) evoke a few chuckles.

The storyline is a bit of a mishmash. Originally starting out to tell the story of Susan’s transformation into Ginormica, the film starts out with all sorts of fresh animated ideas (even if a lot of it is a homage to Attack of the 50-foot Woman). Unfortunately, an alien attack and the subsequent realizations it brings bring the film back into too familiar territory with viewers, and will cause many to ho-hum through some parts of the film (the “party” at Susan’s parents house, for example).

Thankfully, the film ends rather well, if too predictably, and audiences should leave the theater on a high note, still chuckling a bit to themselves.

Although Monsters vs. Aliens seems to be aimed at a younger crowd than we had expected, there’s enough comedy that transcends age, so parents won’t mind seeing this one with their kids.

We had expected something spectacular going in after hearing about the large box office ($196 mil so far in the US). While Monsters Vs. Aliens wasn’t exactly stupendous, it was pretty good, and worth seeing in the cheap seats.

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About

An ex-Floridian, ex-Baltimorian now living in Arizona, Reid wants to get into a career that involves web-design, but for now enjoys working on critiQal in his spare time.


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