tek's rating:

Monsters vs Aliens (PG)
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Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 2009, but I didn't see it until 2013. However, later in 2009 there was a Halloween TV special called Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space, which is set sometime after this movie. And that, I did see when it first aired. There are some other things in the franchise, including a couple of short films and a 2013 TV series (which I haven't had the chance to see).

The movie begins with some far-off planet exploding, and some kind of unidentified flying object streaking through space, toward Earth. (Kinda reminds me of Superman's origin story.) Meanwhile, on Earth, a young woman named Susan Murphy (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is about to marry a weather man named Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd). Shortly before the wedding, he informs her that they won't be able to go to Paris for their honeymoon, as they had planned, because he's been offered a news anchor job in Fresno. Then he heads into the church on his own, and she'll apparently join him soon. However, before she can, she gets struck by a meteorite (the object we'd seen heading for Earth, earlier). It doesn't seem to hurt her, just gets her kind of messy. So she goes into the church for the ceremony, but she soon starts glowing green. Then she starts growing (and her hair turns white), until she's so big she accidentally destroys the church. (Kinda reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.) Incidentally, as she grows, her wedding dress gets quite torn up (kinda like the Incredible Hulk), so um... we get to see quite a bit of her giant legs. But what strikes me as odd is that enough of her dress seems to grow along with her in order to keep the movie PG. Not that I'm objecting, I'm just saying... either have the whole dress grow or none of it; it doesn't make sense to have it both ways. Anyway, the U.S. military had already arrived on the scene, having tracked the UFO, and now they capture poor, terrified Susan.

I'd like to pause for a moment to say that I'm gonna stop parenthetically mentioning things that various scenes remind me of. Because the movie is chock-full of allusions to various other movies and shows and whatever. Most of them seem to me to be more obviously intentional than the things I've mentioned so far. And... the allusions range from mildly amusing to hilarious. Of course, there are lots of really funny bits that aren't geek culture references, too.

Back to the story. Susan wakes up in a huge government facility, where she meets some monsters: Dr. Cockroach (a mad scientist who turned himself into a man-sized cockroach, voiced by Hugh Laurie), B.O.B. (pronounced "Bob," short for Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate; a gelatinous blob, voiced by Seth Rogen), the Missing Link (a fish-ape hybrid thing, voiced by Will Arnett), and Insectosaurus (an irradiated grub that's grown to enormous size). Of course Dr. Cockroach is brilliant, and B.O.B. is dumb, and Link is macho. They're all basically human-sized, so they're way smaller than Susan. But Susan is herself way smaller than Insectosaurus (who is apparently unintelligent). Susan also meets a general named W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), who has been in charge of locking up monsters in this facility since 1950 (though he doesn't look old enough to have been doing this for fifty years). Anyway, he renames Susan "Ginormica," and tells her that her old life is over forever. Naturally, she's not happy about this, and doesn't give up hope of returning to her normal size and her old life.

And then, a squidlike alien named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) sends a huge robot probe (maybe slightly larger than Insectosaurus) to Earth, to retrieve some energy source that had been contained in the meteorite. That energy had been absorbed by Susan, which is what turned her into Ginormica. So he wants to capture her and extract the energy. But it's awhile before anyone on Earth learns about that. First, General Monger comes up with a plan to get the monsters to fight the robot. It takes awhile, but they finally beat it... and afterwards, Susan realizes she likes being a hero. And then Gallaxhar decides to come to Earth himself, not just to extract the energy from Ginormica, but also to invade the planet (seeing as his old planet blew up). So of course the monsters will have to stop his evil plans.

And that's pretty much all I want to say about the plot, but of course it has a happy ending, which lends itself to continuing the story. (And as I said in the opening paragraph, the story has indeed continued.) Um... so, yeah. It's all really funny and cool and stuff. I liked the animation, and the acting. There were several other good actors I haven't mentioned, though I think actually the only voices I recognized were Witherspoon and Jeffrey Tambor (who played Susan's father). And um... the movie had lots of good songs, from various eras, as well as an excellent score (I got soundtrack). And... there's a bonus scene a little ways into the credits. But I'd say it's worth watching the whole credits even after that scene, for the music and the cool retro-looking character silhouettes moving around in the background. And I guess that's all I can say.

(Except, throughout the movie, the few times we see Derek, he's portrayed as a selfish jerk... though most of the time I think he's more selfish than truly jerkish. Maybe a bit more jerkish in the end, but... while I never really liked the guy, and I definitely would have handled things differently if my own fiancée turned into a giant... or whatever... I can't entirely blame him for his reaction, and I've definitely seen jerks in movies who were way jerkier than he was. There was a scene in the middle of the movie where... even as he was breaking Susan's heart, I felt like he at least sort of seemed to feel sorry for her. I dunno.)

But anyway. Basically a fun movie. Oh yeah, and I also wanted to mention that, long before this movie came out, I'd had an idea for maybe someday writing a story where mad scientists have to work together with the heroes who are usually their enemies, to defeat invading aliens. This isn't exactly like that idea, and in fact I wouldn't be surprised if something closer to that idea has been done before. But this is the closest thing I think I've ever seen to my idea.


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