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vivian-and-maggieOne of the great things about having grandchildren  is getting to see animated movies without being embarassed.  Except those who appreciate great animated films will be embarassed by Monsters Vs. Aliens.  Okay, embarassed may not be the word.  Bored.  Disappointed.  Exasperated.  Those words might express the range of responses to this movie that obviously depended on the 3D effect to make it work.

Debbie, Maggie (5), Vivian (8), and I saw Monsters Vs. Aliens at the non-3D showing because I had a church meeting to go to that evening when the 3D version was shown.  Not seeing it in 3D was our second mistake.  Seeing it at all was our first.

Our grandkids, who will sit for hours enraptured by the likes of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, were restless during the movie.  The plot takes too long to get going, and then is really too-adult for little ones.  It begins as a love story with Susan about to marry Derek, the local TV weatherman.  Only Susan gets hit by a meteor that crashes outside the church on her wedding day, and turns into the 50-foot bride during the ceremony.  (There is one cute bit as the presiding minister whips out his cell phone while Susan is growing to gigantic proportions, but that’s an inside baseball moment for us pastors.)

Susan is then transported, after being subdued by government forces, to a secret Area-51 type facility.  She awakens to discover that she is still very tall, and in the company of other monsters — a mad scientist-turned-cockroach, a blob named Bob (one of the better characters), a creature-from-the-black-lagoon fishman, and Insectosaurus, a big bug.  Their getting-to-know-you scene is amusing, but not funny.

Then, the aliens come into the picture looking for the stuff that made Susan turn into Ginorma, her new government-given name.  From there, Ginorma (Susan) and the others battle the aliens, not once, but several times, and prevail.

Stephen Colbert is the voice of the President, but neither the dialogue nor the plot showcase him well either.  The best scene in the entire movie is the President’s riff on the “tone sequence” scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Mostly MvA is full of not-so-funny lines, a weak plot, a love story that was never about love, and a lot of violence.  Okay, so it’s cartoon violence, but still there’s a lot of it.  The violence could have been offset by some light-hearted clever dialogue, but there wasn’t much of that either.

In short, the movie falls flat.  The animation at times is stunningly real, but the characters — except for Bob the blob — just don’t have the pizzaz a movie like this needs.  Think of Toy Story or Wall-E or even the silly Ice Age films, and MvA is not even in the same league.

If you must see it, and you might have to if you have a 5 or 8 year old, please see it in 3D.  At least then the characters will have some dimension to them, and the plot will appear well-rounded.

The best part of the whole afternoon was spending it with Maggie and Vivian who are animated without any outside help all the time.