Dreamworks introduces the ultimate animated 3-D creature-feature, with Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon’s Monsters Vs. Aliens – that’s right, the battle that children (and those guilt-ridden, imaginative adults) have fantasized about since Monsters Inc. and Space Jam. When Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is bulldozed by a gunk-infested meteor on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows 49 feet and eleven inches. While imprisoned in a secret government compound, she meets a congenial squad of monsters: Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), Half-Ape/Half-Fish (Will Arnett), and B.O.B. (Seth Rogen). When an alien robot lands on Earth and begins destroying the country, the military releases the monsters to combat the alien robot and, obviously, save the world!
I had the privilege of sitting down with Rogen, Witherspoon, Sutherland and Arnett, as well as Producer Lisa Stewart and Co-Director Rob Letterman. Stewart’s priority in bringing these characters to life involved “assembling a comedy all-star team [who were] quick on their feet in the recording booth” and she certainly succeeded. The astronomically talented group features the voices of Seth Rogen, Reese Witherspoon, Keifer Sutherland, Will Arnett, Rain Wilson, and Paul Rudd. Not only are their distinct voices memorable, but so are their hilarious performances.
While the characters were based off of the iconic monsters of the 50’s and 60’s horror-films, the filmmakers hoped to incorporate a novel sense of disposition in creating their ensemble. One of the two directors of the film Letterman said that while making the film, “we wanted to create unique characters. You look at these old monsters and there are very, very broad sub-genres…the mad scientist, the gooey thing. Those characters never had hopes and dreams and ambitions. We could easily use the ‘iconicness’ of these characters that everyone could relate to, but be completely original in the personality that we gave them.”
Monsters vs. Aliens is obviously seeping with mindless humor, for both kiddies and adults alike. But, while the movie is primarily geared towards kids, even Seth Rogen (infamous for his roles in the college-humor genre) was able to shelf the vulgarity and genereate a more universal sense of humor for the film. Rogen admits, “My first concern was how will I be funny without profanity. A real fear I had! But the answer is, if you get very clever people to animate you, it makes up for all the profanity in the world! And actually makes quite a delightful movie.”
All jokes a side, there are a number of poignant themes, including that of friendship, that make this far more than just a slapstick comedy. The message is clear and yet not so over-stated that the adults in the audience feel like they’re being spoon fed BS. The film speaks to people who feel like outsiders, and encourages them to not only acknowledge their odd traits, but put them to good use – which is a great message for whack-jobs of all ages!
Witherspoon comments, “I think this movie has a really strong friendship message, and how important those relationships are. And also, you know, if you feel a little different on the outside – there’s still a group of people you fit into.” She adds, jokingly “And you guys might just collectively save the world!”
This journey of loyalty, coming-of-age, and potential universal disaster will have you’re stomach in knots from, literally, belly-aching laughter. But, perhaps Monsters vs. Aliens’ most endearing message was that of self-discovery – specifically for children. Mr. Sutherland articulates perfectly, “I loved the idea that they were making a movie, geared towards young children, telling them it was alright to be different. Not only was it alright to be different, but that thing that might make you feel awkward about being different – could be your greatest quality. I don’t think there’s a more important message.”
On that note, GO SEE this film!!!!! IT IS HILARIOUS and it’s an amazing story.
Opens nationwide Friday the 27th and in 3-D at select theaters (find the 3-D, it’s so much better!)!