Monsters vs. Aliens

Time Out New York Project: Issue #704, March 26-April 1, 2009


Dirs. Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon. PG. 94mins. Voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie.

Wit does not become this DreamWorks-produced 3-D animated feature, which commences with California girl Susan Murphy (Witherspoon) taking a gunk-filled meteorite to the head on her wedding day. Until this point, her problems are pure West Coast—she’s got a selfish weatherman boyfriend (Paul Rudd) who prizes career over all, and a perpetual yearning to visit Paris (France, not Hilton). But then the space slime turns her into a 50-foot-tall superwoman named Ginormica. Now imprisoned at a secret military base, she seems doomed to while away the years in solitary confinement with various other “monsters,” like the half-ape/half-fish Missing Link (Will Arnett) and the mad scientist insect Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. (Laurie). That is until an off-worlder named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) comes to Earth with nefarious plans for domination and a clone army at the ready.

Monsters vs. Aliens reaches the (relative) heights of hilarity only twice. First instance: When the film’s dim-witted POTUS—an amalgam of all the worst aspects of Reagan and Clinton, voiced, natch, by Stephen Colbert—communicates with an alien cyborg by tinkling Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” on the synthetic ivories. Second instance: When the Rogen-essayed living globule B.O.B. one-sidedly romances and breaks up with a neon green Jell-O mold. There are also a few lovingly detailed San Francisco landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, which meets a memorably destructive end. But MvA is mostly a brainless parade of half-baked gags, punctuated by the occasional fourth-wall-breaking effect. Only those who desire a paddleball to the kisser or a face full of Mothra snot need apply.—Keith Uhlich