Monsters vs. Aliens

I feel that with non-Pixar films, there’s a cookie cutter approach to making animated movies for kids.  You start with a simple story, add in a main character that has to overcome a challenge, have one character take care of all the comedy and then throw in some supporting characters and a funny villain, shake ‘em up and there you’ll have your kids movie.  I imagine the folks at Dreamworks and Fox Animation have this recipe plastered all over their walls because the storylines we tend to get from them follow this to a tee.

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However, just because it’s a well-trodden path, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.  In some cases, it works very well and I can actually say I really enjoyed MONSTERS VS. ALIENS.  It has a good message, some funny characters, and moves along fast enough to keep you interested.  When it comes to kids’ movies, that’s really all you can ask for.

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A 50-foot woman, a blob, a talking bug and a sea-monster team up to save the world from an over-zealous alien.  Sounds like a dream collaboration of classic villains from old horror films, but it’s actually the premise of  MONSTERS VS ALIENS.  The monsters in the film are held prisoner in a secret government facility to protect them from the outside world.  But when an evil alien attacks earth, the government asks the monsters to save the day in exchange for their freedom.

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I loved that they used traditional villains as heroes, and gave each of them a little back-story to appease fans of classic horror.  I would’ve liked for someone to acknowledge that the reason people are scared of them is because of those movies, but maybe they’re saving that joke for the sequel.  They had a few other cutesy references, but there was opportunity for a many more.  I was also surprised they didn’t use the President more, especially since he was voiced by Stephen Colbert.  I also felt they spent too much time on the origins story of Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon).  I know she was the main character and the one that had to “grow” as a person (no pun intended), but focusing on her origins got the film off to a really slow start.  I would’ve liked to seen her story in a quick flashback, like the other monsters.

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But the character everyone is talking about is B.O.B. (the blob).  Every single laugh-out-loud moment came because of something he said or did.  Seth Rogen is one of the greatest voice-over actors working today and he did a great job with B.O.B.  Consequently, the other characters were underused, especially The Missing Link (voiced by the great Will Arnett).  There was plenty of opportunity there to have him do or say some funny things and they just never got around to it.  Because of this, they may have been better served completely eliminating some of the other monsters.

Overall though, this is a good time.  It’s safe enough for kids and more than entertaining for adults.  It doesn’t have the heart and soul of your standard Pixar film, but it was still fun.  Even though I hate to contribute to the over-hyping of B.O.B., his presence is worth the price of admission.  It has been a while since I’ve laughed so hard at an animated character.


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