They’re coming right at us!
3-D helps, but can’t save script
I want to know why audiences get only one really good kids’ movie a year. Why is there only one The Incredibles or Ratatouille or Wall-E a year? I mean, sure, there are relatively fewer tot-targeted movies, and maybe the ratio of one to six (or whatever) is about the same as the “good to dreck” ratio for grownup flicks. But it does seem that kids get one really solid film a year, one that stands on its own merits, one that has something to say. Just one. And Monsters vs. Aliens isn’t it.
Susan Murphy (voice of Reese Witherspoon) is preparing for her wedding to weatherman Derek Dietl (voice of Paul Rudd) when she gets smushed by a radioactive meteor (and I thought it was bad when my florist crashed his van on the way to the church for my wedding.) As one does when one comes into contact with glowing space junk, she grows to an enormous height. She’s captured by General W.R. Monger (Keifer Sutherland), who keeps monsters like “Ginormica” (the name he gives Susan) in a secret location, described as “an X-file, wrapped in a coverup, deep-fried in a paranoid conspiracy.) In her prison live B.O.B., a dim, perfect-for-merchandizing blob of blue goo (Seth Rogen. Does the voice. Seth Rogen is not blue goo.), The Missing Link, (Will Arnett), Insectosaurus (who doesn’t talk), and Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie.) And the problem with Hugh Laurie doing voiceover work is that you can’t see Hugh Laurie. Or Paul Rudd. Or Steve Colbert, who voices the president. (What? Colbert is hot. Don’t judge me.)
Anyway, a Generically Bad Alien, Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) comes to Earth to suck out the very quantonium that made Susan into Ginormica. The monsters band together to stop him. The end. Sorry—did I spoil it for anyone? Well, while I’m at it, it was Earth all along, soylent green is people and “Rosebud” is his sled.
There might be something neat in that Susan is a female heroine who must come to terms with her own power and I could get all feministy on that, but it’s not really developed enough. There are a few shoutouts to the adults in the audience; the best are those that are sci-fi related (among them are allusions to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “Red Dwarf” and Spaceballs. I’m sure there are more, but I didn’t catch them because I am a woman.)
I saw Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D, which did make the mostly formulaic script easier to take (especially since I’d never seen a 3-D movie in a “real” theater. No, really!) First, know that 3-D tickets are about $5 more than a regular film, and some kids in the theater seemed to have problems keeping their glasses on. 3-D also tends to give me a low-grade headache, and I’m slightly susceptible to motion sickness during 3-D movies. So if your kid gets sick when reading in the car, beware. There are a couple of so-cliché-they’re-ironic moments (a character plays paddleball being the best example), but other than that, the 3-D is just kinda cool. It doesn’t add anything to the experience of the movie. It’s just nifty, and you get to keep your glasses.
There is very little objectionable material. B.O.B. at first insists that Susan is a boy because “he” has “boobies.” Gallhaxhar exclaims “What the flagnard?!” Susan’s costume is snug but not obscene; you do see her garter belt under her wedding dress as she grows. There’s a minor poop joke that went over VERY well with the kids attending the same showing I did. Laser guns make an appearance, and bad guys fall, both down dead and down big holes, where they presumably end up dead. The audience is led to believe that Insectosaurus dies. But even the scariest of action sequences is nothing compared to the actual heart-pounding fun found in The Incredibles. Which, how cool would The Incredibles be in 3-D?
Monsters vs. Aliens is just a kid’s movie. They’ll enjoy it and make you buy some B.O.B. stuff and then it’ll pass. It’s fast-moving, so they shouldn’t be bored, and it’s not preachy, so you shouldn’t have to roll your eyes too much. But, really, when it comes to Monsters vs. Aliens, no one really wins.
Previews at a recent showing were Star Trek, Land of the Lost (which has spiders and a T-Rex and an shouted request for Matt Lauer to “eat it.”), Imagine That, and, in 3-D, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, and Up!
Kristen Page-Kirby is the editor of Chesapeake Family. She uses too many parentheses and thinks that kids are going to be disappointed when they grow up and most movies are flat. She last reviewed Confessions of a Shopaholic.