Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bring your little girls to "Monsters vs. Aliens"

"Monsters versus Aliens" is good, if not great. Okay, it's DreamWorks, and I'm a total Pixar snob. I'm willing to admit it when Pixar makes a bad film, but they just haven't done it yet. And other major studio animation films just usually don't rise to that level, with the possible exceptions of "Ice Age" and "Shrek."

But what "Monsters" has going for it is that very rare thing in family entertainment -- a positive female lead. Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) begins as a docile bride-to-be, prepared to follow her upwardly-mobile husband wherever his career leads them. (She's even willing to accept Fresno over Paris as a honeymoon destination because it will help his career.) Then fate intervenes in the form of a meteorite that transforms Susan into a giant. The government immediately rips her from her hometown and imprisons her along with a handful of other lovable mutants.

Fate again falls from the skies when an alien robot starts tearing up northern California, and the government decides to dispatch its "monsters" to stop it. In doing so, Susan finds new strength and purpose and begins to enjoy her role as a protector. But she finds that her old friends, family, and fiancé are reluctant to hang out with her and her fellow monsters.

Ultimately, Susan faces a choice: to go back to her normal, subservient life and live "happily ever after," or to remain a strong, unmarried giant with a career that she loves. That she chooses the latter is a real credit to the film and sets it apart from such fare as "The Little Mermaid." The fact that she needed to be forcibly removed from her old life for her to make this choice is rather interesting, but I'll let those familiar with feminist theory and false consciousness comment on that.

Anyway, I'm not sure how much my four-year old daughter picked up from this viewing, but she could do worse than seeing the occasional movie like this.

Also, Stephen Colbert was really good as the president.


Lidzville said...

A honeymoon in Fresno is an intriguing idea.

Anonymous said...

Seems better than Paris. I mean, unless you really like pine trees and nothing, east Texas is awful.