Combustible Celluloid
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With: (voices) Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd, Julie White, Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski, Sean Bishop, Bo Dietl
Written by: Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, based on a story by Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Directed by: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action, some crude humor and mild language
Running Time: 94
Date: 03/19/2009

Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Giant Leaps

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The new 3D animated feature film from Dreamworks is really less of a kids' movie and more of a witty science fiction comedy aimed at fans of cheesy 1950s sci-fi films; it's like a smoother, faster Mars Attacks! (1996). The movie does a fine job balancing referential in-jokes and more modern humor, though it still seems hampered by a cursory attempt at making a kids' film and throwing in all the usual kids' conventions. Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is a small town Modesto girl about to marry her small town TV weatherman boyfriend Derek (voiced by Paul Rudd). Unfortunately, on her wedding day, a meteor lands on top of her and turns her into Ginormica, a fifty-foot woman. To prevent widespread panic, the government snatches her up and locks her in a top-secret facility with four other monsters. Her new friends are: Dr. Cockroach (voiced by Hugh Laurie), a mad scientist who accidentally turned himself into a cockroach; B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen), a one-eyed gelatinous blob; the scaly, web-footed The Missing Link (voiced by Will Arnett); and a giant grub called Insectosaurus. General Monger (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) is in charge of them, like a gruff Professor Xavier. When an evil alien called Gallaxhar (voiced by Rainn Wilson) attacks the earth, the only option is to let the monsters loose to defeat him. Monsters vs. Aliens moves quickly and smoothly, and makes impressive use of size and space (greatly aided by the excellent 3D process). Susan feels like a real giant, though it's too bad she looks more like a Barbie doll than Allison Hayes. And even if some of the film's rhythms very closely resemble other computer-animated films, it has a cheerful goodwill that's hard to shake. It's almost ready-made for a cheesy drive-in triple-bill of 3D films. Parents will be thrilled, but I'm not sure how happy their kids will be.

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