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Review

‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ appeals to one of two target demographics

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April 16, 2009

Animation is certainly making a comeback, and has been gradually for the past decade (debatable, of course). While 2-D animation is taking a backseat, CG animation reigns supreme.

Animated films nowadays are facing a different demographic than they were before. Rather than keeping the children’s attention, studios realize that more can be gained from appealing to adults (features like “Shrek,” “Shark Tale,” etc.). 

Dreamworks Animation takes yet another stab at walking the line between entertaining kids and adults with “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

While on her way to her wedding to a local weatherman, Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is struck by a meteor and turned into a giant. The military soon arrives, captures her and takes her to a top-secret facility. There she meets other beings that have been deemed monsters, including a gelatinous mass named Bicarbonate Ostylezene Benzonate, or simply B.O.B (Seth Rogen), an amphibious missing link (Will Arnett) and a cockroach scientist appropriately nicknamed Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. (Hugh Laurie). While the other monsters are content with being on lockdown for the past 50 years, Susan finds it unbearable and isolating. 

An alien named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson, of “The Office” fame) sends a probe to earth to detect the radiation from the meteor.

No conventional military force can stop the probe, so they seek the help of Susan and the other monsters to defeat it in return for their freedom. Everything goes according to plan, but Gallaxhar soon makes multiple clones of himself to take over earth, and it’s up the monsters to defeat him.

Most kids will definitely find this movie fun and enjoyable. It is filled with plenty of physical humor, as almost every scene involves someone getting hit by something. There are a lot of flashy action sequences with explosions and fighting (which are as violent as a PG movie will allow).

But adults might not find “Monsters” to be as absorbing. Sure, it has references to various monsters movie of the ‘50s and ‘60s, but presumably only a certain percentage of adults will get said references. Susan is a 49 1/2 foot woman, which is homage to “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” and B.O.B. is “The Blob.” We get it, but that does not necessarily make it funny.

If “Monsters vs. Aliens” has a redeeming quality, it is the voice talent. Adults will no doubt get a kick out of the voice talent, as it features the voices of such comedic actors as Rogen, Arnett, Wilson and Paul Rudd. The most memorable probably has to be Stephen Colbert as the U.S. President, as pretty much every line he warrants a chuckle at least. But I don’t think that too many 8-year-olds watch “The Colbert Report”. 

Overall, “Monsters vs. Aliens” is not a bad film. The animation is top notch, as action sequences are often very well executed, even if they do tend to drag on and lose some steam in a few scenes. The film attempts to entertain both kids and adults, but comes off as more for children, especially the humor.

2.5 stars

José Cruz Jr. is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.