[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Monsters Vs. Aliens

Animated spoof on old science fiction movies

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

March 29, 2009 -- This science fiction 3D animated romp starts out with a tongue-in-cheek reference to one of the most famous of all 3D movies, “House of Wax” and the most famous 3D scene in that movie, a man hitting paddle balls so they fly at the audience. With a nod and wink, “Monsters Vs. Aliens” kicks off with a similar paddle ball scene and goes on to skewer many old time science films, including “Attack of the 50-foot Woman,” “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” “Mothra,” “The Blob” and “The Fly.” There are also references to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” and lots of other science fiction films.

It seems like a movie for kids, but it really isn't. At the screening I attended, I heard a lot of little kids asking their parents, “what happened?” The story is not laid out in a way that is easy for young children to follow. There is no way most kids would get the references to most of the movies mentioned above, because you'd have to be at least 50 years old to have seen most of them. This seems to be a movie aimed more at adults than children, but for adults, at least, it is very funny. Steven Colbert's wacky President Hathaway will appeal to Colbert fans everywhere, while Keiffer Sutherland's General W.R. Monger will remind movie fans of some very funny characters from “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

The story has Susan Murphy about to marry a local weatherman, but she is hit by a meteor on her wedding day and turns into a woman more than 50 feet tall. She is immediately captured by the military and transported to a secret facility, obviously based on “Area 51” of urban legend fame. There she meets B.O.B., an indestructible gelatinous blob, Dr. Cockroach, a mad scientist who turned himself into an insect, but who is still very intelligent, The Missing Link, an aquatic monster who once spoiled a big beach party during spring break and the giant Insectosaurus, which makes even Susan look small. These so-called monsters spend some time in the secret prison facility and get to know each other. Finally, the earth is invaded by a giant robot and the earthlings turn to their monsters as the only hope to stop it.

The movie barely touches upon the irony of the government asking these monsters to risk their lives for humanity after humanity has held them prisoner. It also barely touches upon the whole issue of whether they have any rights at all. Instead, we head directly into action, with the monsters bravely fighting the huge, powerful robot sent by the alien Gallaxhar to collect a powerful substance called quantonium. The meteor that hit Susan was loaded with quantonium and that is what made her grow so big and powerful. Susan almost single-handedly destroys the giant robot, also causing severe damage to the Golden Gate Bridge in the process. True to his word, General W.R. Monger gives the monsters their freedom after they win the battle, but they find they are not accepted by society, even after saving the world. It turns out that the threat from Gallaxhar is not ended and their journey is not over.

The story is very strong on the girl power angle as Susan embraces her inner monster, but the rest of the characters are weak. The story's approach to the whole issue of the illegal imprisonment of Susan and the others is shallow and poorly thought-out. Perhaps if they had been held at Guantanamo Bay instead of Area 51 the issue would resonate stronger. But this movie isn't deep. It is a lighthearted romp and it is funny. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2009 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)