What if we bring back those great monster movie characters of the 50’s? The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Blob, The Fly, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Now, what of they were all working for the government and had to save humanity from an alien invasion? That’s the basic premise of Monsters vs. Aliens and it goes no further than it has too to make that work. Ultimately that’s fine as it really sticks with the basic archetypes from those old monster movies, but provides them with great comedic timing and the voice stylings of Reece Wither Spoon, Seth Rogan, Hugh Laurie, and Will Arnett. The plot revolves mostly around Reece Witherspoon’s character Susan/Ginormica who is hit by a meteor at her wedding to a self absorbed reporter (Paul Rudd) and fused with a substance that makes her really really big. She is taken by the government to a secret base where she is housed with the other monsters of the title. There she is made an offer by a military office inspired by George C. Scott’s character in Stanley Kubrick’s Doctor Stangelove, but voiced by Keifer Sutherland. Help us defeat the Aliens attacking earth and earn your freedom. In the process they becomes friends, and come to terms with who they are, allowing themselves to feel special even if they scare most of the people who see them.
That is pretty much what you get from this movie. In the end you are left with very little. It was nice to see these character ideas taken out of mothballs and played with but(I was a big fan of these movies as a ten year old), for kids, it felt like the subject was toned down too much. I had presented a choice to my son between watching this and Kung Fu Panda 3. He wanted this. I, honestly, wanted Kung Fu Panda. It is not that Monster’s vs. Aliens wasn’t funny, it had it’s moments, mostly due to Seth Rogan as a Blog with no real brain, and Hugh Laurie, as a half man half cockroach, but there was nothing really at stake personally for the characters for most of the movie. There was freedom, but nothing that made the tasks seem really important. It wasn’t until they introduced the fact that Susan’s fiancee did not want to marry her that the theme loving yourself as you are pops up. That’s a fine theme that provided us something to latch onto emotionally but not enough in the end. The rest of the monsters are still just monsters and are given nothing more than what they are dealing with on the surface of the movie. Ultimately it would have been great to see the bond between them all become stronger based on their shared need for friendship, but instead it was all about saving the world and probably selling rights to books, maybe a sequel, and toys. I would have liked to watch Kung Fu Panda, those movies are always grounded in a real lesson that has great takeaway for kids and adults.
Deals slightly with being confidant in who you are