Friday, March 19, 2010

"Monsters vs Aliens" (2009)

"Monsters vs Aliens" (2009)
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie and Seth Rogan
Written by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon

Though Disney/Pixar may be the kings of CG animated films, Dreamworks has proven themselves no slouches with their popular 'Shrek' series, and now 'Monsters vs Aliens', a 2009 sci-fi comedy hit.  Boasting an all-star cast and first-rate animation and a wittily absurd script, 'Monsters vs Aliens' is easy to recommend and highly entertaining.

The story concerns Susan (Witherspoon), a bride-to-be who is struck by a radioactive meteor on her wedding day.  Suddenly transformed into a 50-foot-tall woman with enormous strength, she is quickly captured by the US government and imprisoned with other monsters such as Dr Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), Missing Link (Will Arnett) , Insectosaurus and a gelatinous blob named B.O.B (Seth Rogan). Their prison warden is the hard-nosed military general W. R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland, employing a cartoonish but effective southern drawl). 

When Earth is attacked by the evil alien Gallaxhor (Rainn Wilson), the President (Stephen Colbert) allows Monger to unleash the monsters to protect the planet in exchange for their freedom.  Susan, fighting off a giant alien robot nearly by herself, realizes that the old life she longs to return to isn't all it was made out to be.  And when her fiance, Derek (Paul Rudd), makes her realize what a selfish jerk he is, she begins to accept her freakish new friends and role in life. 

There's a decent message here for a powerful female protagonist to realize that she's stronger than the man she thought she loved, standing up for herself and realizing that the freaks are the best friends she's had in life.  Whether that's me reading too much into the situation or not doesn't matter - 'Monsters vs Aliens' is pretty hilarious.  There's lots of hijinks going on, with a movie this filled with lunacy and absurd characters.  Colbert makes the most of his short runtime as a dimwitted politician obsessed with his own importance (his opening attempt to communicate with the aliens via synthesizer music is a riot).  Seth Rogan does a fabulous job playing a gelatinous doofus, always forgetting who he is since he has no brain.  In one inspired bit, he laments that a bowl of jello he hits on at a party may have given him a fake phone number.

"Monsters vs Aliens' is a win for Dreamworks.  It may not reach the emotional highs of Pixar's efforts, but it certainly makes up for that with plenty of silly humor and knowing pop culture and sci-fi references.