Monsters vs. Aliens

MPAA rating: PG
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction/Fantasy
Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Kiefer Sutherland and others provide the voices in this animated adventure about a young girl who transforms into a robot, then joins a battle to save the human race from invading aliens.
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Paul Rudd, Renée Zellweger
Director: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
Release: Opened Mar 27, 2009
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Editorial Review

The super-duper-3-D-big-screen-Imax-deluxe extravaganza that is "Monsters vs. Aliens" has bells and whistles, superb technical sophistication and dazzling visual effects, sound, fury and Reese Witherspoon.

What it doesn't have is heart.

Like so many vehicles that have popped out from the DreamWorks Animation snark tank, "Monsters vs. Aliens" is too clever by half. The movie, which Jeffrey Katzenberg has been flogging as the flagship of his "3-D: It's the Future!" campaign, admittedly takes technology to impressive new levels. With the exception of some gags involving a paddle ball and a few menacingly outstretched arms, the film uses 3-D not for stunts but to create amazing visual depth and texture. But at a recent Saturday morning screening full of youngsters and their adult charges, nary a giggle or delighted gasp could be heard, maybe because references to "Dr. Strangelove" are lost on the SpongeBob SquarePants set.

Either that, or even little ones appreciate a good story. And that's precisely what's missing from "Monsters vs. Aliens," which is nominally about a bunch of government-sponsored monsters that do battle with an evil alien squid craving world domination. That's plot, not a story. And too often, "Monsters vs. Aliens" is about things, not characters. One exception is B.O.B., a forgetful blue gelatinous blob that, as voiced by Seth Rogen, not only elicits but earns his laughs. As for the rest of the movie, it will recede into your own B.O.B.-like memory bank, dissolve quickly and disappear forever.

-- Ann Hornaday (March 27, 2009)

Contains sci-fi action, crude humor and mildly suggestive euphemisms.