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  Monsters vs Aliens Science Fiction Trouble Feature
Year: 2009
Director: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd, Julie White, Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski, Sean Bishop, Rich Dietl, Stephen Kearin
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 3 votes)
Review: It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. When Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) was awoken by her friends on the morning of her wedding, she was delighted to see her husband-to-be Derek (Paul Rudd) presenting the weather on television as usual, and pledge his love for her at the end of the bulletin. However, when Susan reaches the church, there are unforseen circumstances: for a start, they're not going to Paris for their honeymoon, but Fresno instead where Derek has an interview. Then there's the small matter of the falling meteorite...

Can you believe Reese Witherspoon as a misfit? Can you believe she was ever a misfit for that matter? If so, you were likely to get along with Monsters vs Aliens quite well, as she voiced a woman who is turned giant sized by her proximity to that meterorite (how it didn't squash her is not detailed), thereby transforming into that old fifties sci-fi favourite, the 50 Foot Woman. Homage was partly the order of the day here, updating not one but five semi-classic, or at least cult classic fantasy-themed movies, and in their revisionist manner not portraying them as threats, but individuals who could conceivably save the world.

Susan is the new girl here, given towering height and super strength, but still wishing she was not stuck in this top secret government building with a bunch of weirdos for company. Those weirdos in full: The Blob, now Bob (Seth Rogen) with no brain; The Fly, now Dr Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), a scientific genius whose experiment on himself went wrong; The Gillman from Creature from the Black Lagoon, now The Missing Link (Will Arnett) who is desperate to prove himself (and not bothered by all that love business); and finally Mothra, now Insectosaurus, a bug even bigger than Susan, or Ginormica as she is now called. All are depicted with a fondness befitting the views of a true fan.

Yet oddly, while it was a fair success, Monsters vs Aliens didn't really take off with the public in the way that their parent company Dreamworks saw their Shrek franchise do, in spite of the in-jokes and references which made up the humour being rather better integrated and appropriate here than in the fairy tale spoofs. Perhaps it was because the target was far more specific, after all everyone was taught those fables at one point, but fifties sci-fi was something a viewer really had to seek out, especially as time went on. Whatever the reason, it still wasn't especially funny, but was bright and colourful enough to divert those who liked the sources as much as the filmmakers did.

As to the aliens, their role was taken by Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) and his army of clones who wish to extract the special ingredient that gives Ginormica her powers, thereby making himself even stronger, although considering all the hardware he had at his disposal you wonder if a little more would make much of a difference. Anyway, if he didn't try to kidnap our heroine and take over the world as a consequence there would be no plot, so after the Golden Gate Bridge is destroyed in It Came from Beneath the Sea style, there is a showdown as indicated by the title as the outsiders find their sense of worth. It was the traditional be who you can be and you'll find a place to fit in moral of countless feelgood movies, and nothing but what you'd expect, yet wouldn't it have been better to make this even slightly scarier? That's what monsters and aliens were meant to be, yet here were reduced to sitcom level. Still, Susan's growing independence struck a neat pro-female note, if that's what you wanted in your science fiction spoofs. Music by Henry Jackman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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