Monsters vs. Aliens has a shlocky, sci-fi title that’s straight from the 1950s, and the more affection you have for that period, the more you’ll appreciate this computer-animated adventure from DreamWorks Animation Studios.
Where that leaves the kids who are the film’s target audience, I’m not sure. But I loved the references to Godzilla, Creature From the Black Lagoon and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The first two are personal, guilty-pleasure favorites, and the latter is now on my Netflix list.
Reese Witherspoon provides the voice of Susan, a bride-to-be who grows an inch shy of 50 feet tall after being exposed to a meteorite. She’s promptly swept away by the U.S. military, renamed Ginormica and added to a team of “monsters” who are being trained to defend the world against an impending alien attack.
Far more jokey than 1999’s similarly themed (and far superior) The Iron Giant, Monsters vs. Aliens at least offers cinematic nostalgia, visual ingenuity and a quick-enough wit. Comic stand-outs among the vocal cast are Seth Rogen as a blob named Bob and Will Arnett as The Missing Link, the Creature From the Black Lagoon stand-in.
Meanwhile, two set pieces – Susan’s transformation at the wedding altar and her showdown with a giant alien robot at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge – are thrilling examples of animated action. Even better is that in some theaters you can watch it all in true 1950s kitsch style: 3-D.