Monsters vs. Aliens, 4/5

Rated PG. Click here to view the trailer. (I did not see the 3D version. Poor me. I’m told it was not annoying and added to the experience.)

For the first ten minutes, I wasn’t a fan of Monsters vs. Aliens. It was a little slow, the 3D character models were off-putting and I was plagued by PG-13 questions like how can a woman standing at the altar in a wedding dress grow from 5’8 to 49’11” and not bust out of her dress? From about minute 11 however, things picked up and they picked up fast.

This latest computer animated movie from DreamWorks, brings together the goodhearted snark of Shrek and the pulpy goodness of classic sci-fi standbys to bring us a surprisingly entertaining movie.

We open with our heroine, Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a giddy bride-to-be who is suddenly struck by a meteor from deepest space, darn the luck. The meteor is imbued with some wunder-element (I’m don’t remember the name… it may have been flubber), which not only causes her to survive the impact, but bleaches her hair and rudely interrupts her nuptials by causing one heck of a growth spurt. Derek, her fiancé (Paul “I can do better than I Love You, Man” Rudd), suffers a bout with Little Man Complex and breaks it off. Susan isn’t thrilled with that and gives new meaning to “bridezilla.”

Enter General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), an R. Lee Emery wannabe in charge of a secret government facility home to other captured freaks. His charges also include the amphibious Missing Link (Will Arnett), the blob-like BOB (Seth Rogen), and a mad-scientist cockroach hybrid (Hugh Laurie). They’re all more or less resigned to their fate (Susan aka Ginormica less so) until suddenly Earth is in need of a savior against an invading alien force led by Galaxhar (Rainn Wilson). It’s only natural that the vaguely Reagan-looking president (Stephen Colbert) would enlist the monsters, led by the resourceful and confident Susan as she begins to warm to her Ginormica identity. Who else is he going to call? The Ghostbusters are clearly unqualified.

That’s pretty much it. It’s a pretty simple story with minimal plot, but unilateral conflict is a theme as old as time: Man vs. Nature, Labor vs. Management, Red Sox vs. Yankees, Cowboys vs. Indians. Why not Monsters vs. Aliens? The fun comes in with the playful manic humor of each of the “monsters,” particularly Seth Rogen’s gelatinous BOB. A little bit of Rogen goes a long way in my book, but here his casting was spot-on. Colbert’s president also steals his scenes, successfully and hilariously bridging that cognitive gap between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Beverly Hills Cop (minor spoiler alert but very funny clip here).

Whatever qualms I had about the character models (Derek the Fiancé, the President and Galaxhar were particularly off-putting), the voice talent more than made up for. In addition to the principals I listed above, the bit part voice actors includes Amy Poehler, Jeffrey Tambor, Ed Helms, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinki.

It’s not a grand slam home run like Wall-E or Finding Nemo, but Monsters vs. Aliens is a rock solid double with two runs batted in.

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