An impulse choice, fueled mostly by convenience and being willing to see anything, got me into the theatre. I had read (against normal protocols) some derisive press about this movie, so worst-case scenario, I would have a fun negative review to write. Sorry to disappoint! This movie was comfortably middle of the road. While Dreamworks has frankly annoyed me to the point of almost-boycott with the Shrek franchise (Shark Tale didn’t help, either), they can’t forever turn out such drivel, right? Monsters Vs Aliens is not poo at all, it’s not bad. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s fine. (Can you see the DVD blurb now? “Middle of the road….it’s fine.” – Cinerina.com)
The best things about Monsters Vs. Aliens are the voice talent and the references. Now, ironically, the Shrek movies are terrible largely because of the stunt casting and the perishable pop culture references. However, this movie cast great voice talents that also happen to be big names with comedic chops, and who share the screen and serve their characters first. At times, though, I thought it might have been funnier to see the live actors (ore more accurately, their public personae) perform rather than the bizarre character designs we were given. Over all, it seems like everyone was having a genuinely good time and the movie itself is pretty fun. The aforementioned references are sprinkled throughout as seasoning rather than serving as the meat of the film. Example: various points of view of terrified humans seeing their intended overlord, and one ends with the running video camera that falls to the ground and goes to static. That is plausible, fits in the story, and harkens back to Cloverfield without a big neon sign that says “CLOVERFIELD REFERENCE: LAUGH NOW.” (Some neon signs still applied.)
After seeing the Shreks and Meet the Spartans (Fox, another guilty party), I sincerely appreciated all the little inclusions of winks at monster and alien movies both classic and recent. The sound designer is a little too addicted to that skidding pod-racer Phantom Menace effect, but it’s OK. The story itself doesn’t go many places that you wouldn’t expect, so the pleasure is in those little gags and the perfect, perfect casting. Our opening affianced couple is voiced by perennial cinema sweethearts Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon. Surly and misunderstood mad genius Dr. Cockroach is Hugh Laurie, returned to his dry British self (god I miss him). The missing link, a primitive, macho fishmonkey who is all id can only be Will Arnett. A brainless, omnishaped, good-natured glutton blob is played by Seth Rogen. Rainn Wilson is the rationally evil baddie, and come on, Stephen Colbert as the President — code named Papa Bear, for the parents to enjoy! There’s plenty to keep a grin on your face, and I barked a laugh out loud a few times (unlike the other 6 people in the theatre), so it’s entertaining, just not worth too many of your valuable pennies. Even though I am rating this movie Rental With Snacks, I do recommend seeing it in the Real D 3-D. They don’t do much that purely gratuitous, but the detail and gorgeousness of the sets really pop — and you get two excellent 3-D previews for other, better-looking movies. Besides the weird character design, Monsters vs. Aliens is gorgeous to look at. So, it’s worth Rental and Snacks, but do try and see it in the 3D. Maybe this is when you bust out those coupons.
MPAA Rating PG
Release date 3/27/09
Time in minutes 94
Director Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Studio Dreamworks Animation