Monsters vs Aliens (2009 film) review…

Monsters vs Aliens (2009 film) review after the break…

Monsters vs Aliens (2009 film) review…

Just like you’d never see the country music singer Garth Brooks scream out a heavy metal song, I’m beginning to see a pattern in what qualifies as a quality production amongst Dreamworks CGI films. That pattern involves copious amounts of pop culture references strung together by the thinnest of plots. Unfortunately, such a pattern robs an otherwise promising premise of it’s full potential.

The title is a bit misleading for several reasons: First, the movie’s main character isn’t really a “monster” at all but a fairly normal bride who has the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. “Susan” is struck by an unusual asteroid moments before her wedding to a possibly egomaniac weather forecaster. Naturally, few guests fail to notice anything amidst until Susan begins to glow green & then simply starts growing.

Captured by the government, Susan is transported to a secret facility that houses all of the other monsters it has in it’s possession: A half-man, half-cockroach mad scientist; A humanoid aquatic being akin to the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” who’s machismo hides some inadequacy issues; A humongous tree grub who is large in size but still very much a tree grub & a gelatinous, absent-minded but kind-hearted blue blob with one eyeball called “B.O.B.” who, yes, resembles the classic monster “The Blob.”

The plot involves a space alien who spies the unusual asteroid & wants it for the valuable mineral that it is composed of. Unfortunately, all of that mineral has been absorbed into Susan (now called “Ginormica”) & needs to be extracted… A job that the alien has no problems in contemplating, along with the destruction of the planet.

Along the way, Susan learns that her future husband-to-be is an egomaniac jerk who will sacrifice anything for a possible promotion in the world of small-market television journalism, that “monsters” aren’t monsters at all & that it’s OK to be good at something. Truth be told, I really liked two of these large “message arcs” & would’ve preferred to have seen DreamWorks do a lot more with them then what they did. I didn’t care for the “She almost married a jerk” storyline – It didn’t do anything for me & since that storyline was mainly used to sell the other message arcs (You don’t have to be handsome to be a good person & you don’t have to reliant on someone to be worth something), I think that there could’ve been other ways to have gotten the message of those message arcs across.

Just as those message arcs were squandered, I think that the entire premise of the “Man in Suit Stomping on City” was equally squandered. Despite the title & implications, the action piece in the middle of the movie is the only time that you see large “creatures” dueling in the middle of a city. It would’ve been really nice to have seen a full-length movie tackle all of the tacky cliches that have accumulated over the decades.

Like a lot of DreamWork efforts, this movie forces you to count the pop culture references. From “Dance Dance Revolution” to “Star Trek” to “Beverly Hills Cop,” viewers better be hip to the fads if they want to take full advantage of all of the movie’s jokes. A lot of them, sadly, fail but that is part of the business model for this type of comedy – If you keep pitching the jokes, eventually, one of them is going to cause a smirk in everyone. Some of the jokes are a bit more appropriate then others – I was a bit dismayed when the film played coy to a moment where a military general cups his hands rather suggestively at a moment where his dialog could be… misinterpreted. Yes, the film isn’t G-rated but a lot of the patrons who watch this film will be regardless of the rating. I have no problem with salty double-entendres but I’m sure a few parents would be wary of such gags. Consider yourselves warned.

A bright spot in the production was the fact that I really couldn’t “place” any of the Hollywood voices. Perhaps I’m not a Reese Witherspoon or Hugh Laurie fan but there were no recognizable voices in the main characters where the voice transcended the performance. An exception was Stephen Colbert who, sadly, was Stephen Colbert as a hapless president hopelessly trapped at one end of a bad joke or the other. I found his performance distracting & it did take me out of the movie. I guess “blending in” & “ensemble performance” is too much to ask for at his current stage of his career. Perhaps a better use for him would’ve been reacting to situations in the movie rather then causing them. After all, how credible can a president be when he suddenly goes from riffing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to “Axel F”?

At the end of the day, the film is what it is – A typical DreamWorks production that relies on the groin kick & the pop culture joke more then on the absurdity of the entire genre that the film is based on. Obviously, a PG-rated film can’t opine about all things “Large Creature Attacking City” such as “How come a 50-foot woman can still retain her modesty with clothes that she was wearing when she was normal height?” or even riff on her name “Ginormica” (bonus karma points for you if you didn’t think “vaginormica” at any time throughout the film).

However, why couldn’t it have asked the question – If you’re such an advanced civilization, why can’t you simply make the substance that you desire? Why do you even need it? You’re in a spaceship… Traveling amongst the stars… Can’t you simply go someplace else??!! Or, why do you need to invade us at all?

“Monsters vs Aliens” is OK for an one-time through visit but there is nothing here to compel me to go back for repeated viewings.

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