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Monsters vs. Aliens movie poster

Monsters vs. Aliens

Genre: Animation, Family, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG
Directed by:
Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland,
Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Renee Zellweger
Released by: Dreamworks Animation

In Short: Good 3-D visuals cannot make up for the lack of laughs in this tepid, derivative animated feature.
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Mediocre Monsters
An Animated Snooze

The folks at DreamWorks who created the new animated feature Monsters vs. Aliens seem to have lost their way along the years-long process it takes to bring a cartoon to the big screen.

They did some things right, like recruiting the voices of talented actors like Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, and Paul Rudd to bring the assorted humans, monsters, and aliens that populate the story to life, and creating the visuals in eye-popping 3-D. Creating a plot that hearkens back to 1950s science-fiction B movies was a clever premise as well.

Reese Witherspoon voices Susan Murphy / Ginormica in Monsters vs. Aliens Seth Rogen, Will Arnett and Hugh Laurie are B.O.B, The Missing Link and Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. in Monsters vs. Aliens

But as the comedy plays out, the film seems slightly lost and not sure what exactly it wants to be. Sections of the story are way too adult-oriented for the kids in the crowd, including an overlong opening sequence all about the nuptials between Susan (Reese Witherspoon) and Derek (Paul Rudd); then others are so blatantly derivative (for example, there's a huge rip-off of Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! when the aliens show up) that movie-aware adults will squirm with embarrassment at the lack of originality in the story.

And the biggest transgression of Monsters vs. Aliens affects everyone in the audience. That's the fact that it really is not very funny very often, causing the younger set to get bored, resulting in squirming and loud distracted chatter. That in turn wakes up their parents, who have zoned out with boredom as the mismatched monsters predictably band together to save the earth from that alien attack.

DreamWorks, the company responsible for Monsters vs. Aliens which also brought us the much-more-amusing series of Shrek and Madagascar animated features, clearly needs to go back to the drawing board. Otherwise, they are going to lose out once and for all in their ongoing competition with their brilliant rivals at Pixar (think WALL-E, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Toy Story) when it comes to being the best at the animated movie game.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated: 03/27/09 KR)

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