Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Tambor, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski, more »
|Director:||Rob Letterman—“Shark Tale”
Conrad Vernon—“Shrek 2”
|Producer:||DreamWorks Animation, Jill Hopper, Latifa Ouaou, Lisa Stewart|
“Alien problem? Monster solution.”
In 2000 Dreamworks released “The Road to El Dorado.” Though a good film it was not by any means a film for children. Apparently Dreamworks has not quite learned their lesson. “Monsters Vs. Aliens” is not as kid-unfriendly as that film, but it certainly is something that many Christian parents may want to think twice about before taking their young children. Older children will probably not have a problem, but “Monsters Vs. Aliens” takes its parody of 50s horror movies to the hilt, resulting in a movie that is mixed in results.
“Monsters Vs. Aliens” proudly mocks everything from 50s flicks ranging from “The Fly,” “The Blob,” “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” to modern films like “Close Encounters” and even “Star Wars Attack of the Clones.” In some respects it reminded me of Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks.” The films opens with a young woman who is about to married. Susan is, however, hit by a meteor which turns her into a giant woman with amazing strength and power. She is immediately captured by the government which sends her to a secret facility where monsters have been kept secret for years. When an alien invasion occurs, however, the government offers freedom to the monsters if they will help. Our heroes (the monsters) then set out to defeat the aliens and save the world. Yes, that is about as thick as the plot gets. Now, considering the subject matter, this is not a bad thing, but ultimately it seems almost directionless. It seems as if the writers strung a bunch of jokes and parodies of 50s horror films together, but forgot to weave them tightly. Perhaps this is somewhat of an unfair criticism, but I found myself comparing it unfavorably to Pixar’s “The Incredibles” which was vastly superior.
The biggest problem with “Monsters Vs. Aliens” is that so much of the subject matter seems inappropriate for younger children, at whom it seems to have been aimed. It has become standard for animated films to draw in older people with potty humor and this film is no exception. While there is no foul language this is at least one instant where a character says “Holy Cheese-it.” In another scene a character spells out “OMG” and another refers to “space balls.” Potty humor is more pronounced with references to Boobies, “peeing on himself which will do us all no good” (he was a giant), “let’s go to code brown because I need to change my pants,” and some gross out humor such as flem being used as a weapon. Now Dreamworks did not go as far as “El Dorado” in respect to animated nudity, but a character does drop his pants to have his behind scanned for entry (seen in some of the advertisements). Finally, the violence is strong for a children’s movie. A giant needle is stuck in someone’s foot, destruction and mayhem are caused by the aliens and monsters alike, a man’s ankle is broken and shown hanging in the wrong direction, and much more science fiction style violence.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” but it does not seem appropriate for the younger children to me. I also saw it as an average imitation of “The Incredibles.” Unlike “The Incredibles,” however, the plot was muddled and seemed more like an action movie. It is something adults may actually more than children, especially since many of the movie references will go over the heads of the younger children.
In the final analysis, “Monsters Vs. Aliens” is Dreamworks attempt to rework “The Incredibles.” It meets with moderate success and it is fun for older kids and adults, but does not seem suitable for young children at all, so take the PG rating seriously, and do not expect a deeply developed plot (yea, I know… it is a cartoon). I give it three and a half stars for its homage to the 50s horror films and its entertainment value, but give a strong caution to young children.
Violence: Moderate to heavy / Profanity: Mild—“Oh my G*d” and “O M G,” “God” (twice—in lyrics), “b**bies” (1) / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.