They say never judge a book by its cover, but there’s something about the title “Monsters vs. Aliens” that brought to mind a mediocre children’s movie with crude fart jokes and lots of epic clashes between monsters and aliens. DreamWorks’s latest animated feature film did not disappoint me.
Once again, DreamWorks sacrificed creating a quality script for putting together an all-star cast. Using the voice talents of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson and Stephen Colbert (oh, and Paul Rudd, Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinksi), this would have been the crƒ¨me de la crƒ¨me of live action movies. But even Seth Rogen’s token stoner laugh was not enough to save a film that was all glitz but no substance.
Written by: Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Hugh Laurie, Rainn Wilson
Run time: 94 minutes
Seen at: Jordan’s Furniture Reading IMAX in 3D
The film follows Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon), an unfortunate woman who gets hit by a meteorite on her wedding day and promptly grows ginormous – hence the US Government dubbing her Ginormica. Thus she is locked away in a secret government facility with other “monsters”: B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a genetically altered tomato gone wrong; Dr. Cockroach Ph.D (Hugh Laurie), a mad scientist who decided to clone himself after the world’s most durable creature; and The Missing Link (Will Arnett), a monster who just likes to terrify the ladies. Then there’s Insectasaurus who I will let you discover for yourself.
Susan is heartbroken after the US Government tell her she will be locked away from her fiancƒ© (Paul Rudd) and family forever. That is, until General W. R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) realizes the best way to battle their new alien threat (Rainn Wilson) is with the monsters they have been containing. Thus, like its title so subtly suggests, the most is about the monsters versus the aliens.
Writers Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky seemed like they were trying to find a happy medium between child and adult humor but instead alienated both. Themes like Susan’s fiancƒ© only wanting to marry Susan so she could live in his shadow and jokes about global warming seemed too mature for a children’s animated movie, but the “adult humor” never was quite as funny as previous DreamWorks films “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda.”
Rogen was the stand-out voice actor of the bunch, though maybe that’s because his voice is funny unto itself. B.O.B. is like a monster version of Brick (Steve Carrell) in “Anchorman,” with some of the jokes (not knowing what his name is) being taken straight from that character. Brick was funny though, and B.O.B. is too. It’s some of the best humor in the movie, even if it’s not original.
Visually, “Monsters vs. Aliens” looked great. While no other animation studio has been able to master the depth of detail and realism that makes Pixar the master of the craft, DreamWorks has come leaps and bounds from “Shrek.”
It also was my first time experiencing a film in 3D, which I had the good fortune to do at the IMAX Theater at Jordan’s Furniture’s Reading location. I wouldn’t recommend seeing it any other way. Even though some of the shots were created solely to look cool in 3D, they did, and that made watching the film somewhat more bearable.
“Monsters vs. Aliens” is the only new animated film out in theaters after last month’s “Coraline.” Go take the kids to see it – they will love B.O.B. (Seth Rogen being family friendly and a kid favorite? Will wonders never cease?). But go in expecting something to keep you entertained for two hours, not something worthy of its cast or that’s going to leave a lasting impact.