‘Monsters’ makes for a fun family film

Scott Viau

Film: Monsters vs. Aliens

Directors: Rob Letterman,
Conrad Vernon

Producer: Lisa Stewart

Writers: Rob Letterman,
Scott Rosenberg

Starring: Reese Witherspoon,
Seth Rogen

Runtime: 94 minutes

Rating: PG

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Generally, when an animated film is set to be released to theaters the most important aspect I look for is whether or not it was made by Pixar. At this point, it doesn’t matter what the plot or voice talent will be. If it’s Pixar, it has a 99.9 percent chance of being brilliant. For all other animated films, the end result will more than likely be a pale imitation of what can only be described as Pixar’s routine genius. If there was a movie that could come close it would be DreamWorks’ latest CG effort “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

On the day of Susan Murphy’s (Witherspoon) wedding, it seems nothing could go wrong. She has the perfect dress, a supportive family and everything she needs by her side. Unfortunately, her wedding day is shattered by the arrival of an asteroid containing a mysterious and strange substance that just so happens to land right on top of her. Susan is not dead, though. After crawling out from under it, she soon grows to over 50 feet tall, freaking out her friends and family. After learning about the crash, the military soon arrives and whisks Susan away to a secret government facility that houses other “monsters.” It is here that Susan meets B.O.B. (Rogen), Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie) and The Missing Link (Will Arnett). When Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), an alien bent on taking over the world, threatens mankind, it’s up to Susan and her team of monsters to save the day.

The voice work is decent, but Witherspoon’s depiction of a woman who is suddenly transformed into the size of a skyscraper leaves a bit to be desired. Nearly every sentence she utters has the same inflection as the one before it. Arnett, who some may know from his days on “Arrested Development,” isn’t as funny as I hoped he would be, but still manages to provide a few chuckles. Stephen Colbert, who plays the president of the United States, should have been the funniest person in the movie, but only serves as a caricature of his usually hilarious self. It actually comes as a bit of a surprise to find that Rogen is the scene-stealer here with his off-the-wall one-liners. His otherwise annoying laugh, which may be grating to hear in other films is put to surprisingly good use here.

The script itself is fairly fun. While it doesn’t contain the same kind of emotional depth or genuine hilarity that a Pixar film does, it manages to relatively engage an audience for an hour and a half. If anything, the script provides a nice message to kids to not let people tell you what you can’t do.

What keeps “Monsters” from reaching the cinematic heights that Pixar does is the fact that the monsters just aren’t relatable. While this may sound ridiculous, it’s characterization that made films like “Monsters, Inc.” and “Ratatouille” so good and the lack of this which made “Cars” have so many rust spots.

I think I’ve finally learned my lesson. I will never be fully satisfied with a movie filmed in 3D, and “Monsters” only strengthens that lesson. Halfway through the film I forgot that what I was watching was supposed to be in 3D and I think the filmmakers did too since there was hardly anything bouncing out of the screen. In all fairness, the main reason I didn’t realize is because I was too caught up in the story, which is a credit to the filmmakers.

It’s certainly no “Wall-E,” but given the storyline and the fact that DreamWorks is producing it, we could have ended up with something much worse. Instead, we got a relatively entertaining film that should please both children and adults, but mainly the former.