Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Animated Film Catch-Up: Monsters vs Aliens

For those just joining us, every couple of years I rent every animated movie that I missed in the theatre that I had a mild interest in seeing, and watch them all in an insane lost weekend. I call this my "Animated Film Catch-Up".

Alright, my lost weekend is almost at and end! And to cap it off, we're going back to DreamWorks...

Monsters vs Aliens

Animation Studio and Best Known Franchise: DreamWorks Animation; Shrek and Madagascar. You might remember them from this weekend's other offerings, Bee Movie and Kung Fu Panda.

Directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon

Starring the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogan, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, and Stephen Colbert as the President.

The Source of my Mild Interest: So when I first heard the title Monsters vs Aliens it had Snakes on a Plane-like attraction for me. What would the aliens be? What would the monsters be? But then it was announced that it was going to be DreamWorks first film completely designed and filmed in 3D. The 3D effects became the core of its marketing. The couple of people I talked to who actually saw it in the theatre only talked about the 3D effects. But, reading some reviews online, they said that, once you got past those 3D effects, what remains is a loving homage to the sci-fi B-movies of the 1950s. It had a lot going for it.

Plot: Susan Murphy seems to be leading the perfect life. She's about to marry a TV weatherman and live happily ever after as a kept woman. But then, on her wedding day, she's clobbered by a meteorite and turns into a giantess. Susan is promptly branded a monster and captured by the military, where she's locked away with other monsters: BOB, a blue blob, Dr. Cockroach, a mad scientist turned into a cockroach, and the Missing Link. Soon, alien invaders arrive on Earth, because the element that causes Susan's mutation is the key to alien warlord Gallaxar's WMD. The military decides to turn the monsters loose to defeat the aliens, and in the process, Susan learns to be an ass-kicking independent woman.

What I Liked: OK, now I've known that one thing I've complained about in animated films is getting celebrities to do little more than voice themselves. But in this case, where you've got such talented comics as Rogan, Arnett, and Colbert, I really don't mind. This movie was funny as hell. In something like this, choosing appropriate pop culture references really helps, as all the gags were about sci-fi B-movies from the 1950s. I was shocked at how funny this movie is. And props to Amy Poehler for doing that sexy sexy computer voice.

What I Didn't Like: You could tell this was DreamWorks' first film in 3D. Every 10 minutes something is being thrown at the screen to do that "jumping out at you" thing. I half-expected Count Floyd to show up and offer someone a piece of cake. And that plot was rather formulaic.

Final Verdict: Much funnier than I expected. Highly enjoyable.

3 Nibs

And that brings us to the end of my latest Animated Film Catch-Up! Most of the films were pretty much what I expected. Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs Aliens, and Horton Hears a Who were the surprises of the weekend. I'm even half-tempted to fish Kung Fu Panda and Monsters vs Aliens out of a discount bin someday.

I might be doing this again sooner rather than later...I'm still kind of upset I missed 9 and Fantastic Mr. Fox in their theatrical runs.

Anyway, I'm going to go outside and play now!

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