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Movie Review

Spend the morning with ecstatic friends. Check.

Dress up in the most beautiful gown ever. Check.

Get to the church on time. Check.

Get hit by a hurtling meteorite filled with space gunk. Check.

Suddenly expand to an enormous 49 feet 11 inches tall. Check.

To say that Susan Murphy's wedding day to-do list included some unexpected items would be the understatement of the year—maybe the millennium. And not just because kissing her fiancé post-meteor strike would entail nearly swallowing him. Right after her nuptials are obliterated, Susan gets nabbed by government officials, slapped with the not-so-nice moniker Ginormica and hustled off to a top secret holding compound.

Talk about a wedding day horror story.

And the horror seemingly continues when Ginorm ... er, Susan meets the other inmates at this special prison: the brilliant, insect-headed Dr. Cockroach; a macho half-ape, half-fish creature named Missing Link; the indestructible blue blob B.O.B.; oh, and the 350-foot grub Insectosaurus.

Being caged with this creepy crew is bad enough. But then the giant gal learns that the government plans to keep her locked up ... forever!

However, as Susan knows all too well, even the best-laid plans can change.

Enter the alien Gallaxhar.

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Positive Elements

The members of Susan's ragtag crew are more misunderstood misfits than "monsters." They come to love Susan and put their lives on the line to save her. She does the same for them. And although the government has locked them away in order to "protect the public," these outcasts willingly step forward as mankind's champions as they repel Gallaxhar's alien invasion. Along the way, the movie teaches us to look past what we perceive to be others' physical flaws in order to see their true inner value. It also celebrates Susan's inner strength while giving a well-deserved drubbing to narcissistic males (who are threatened by her newfound moxie).

Susan is also dedicated to her fiancé, Derek, and willing to put her desires aside to accommodate his career goals. In fact, she stands steadfastly by him, in spite of their differences, right up to the moment he dumps her. In contrast to her flaky fiancé, Susan's parents are supportive of her new friends ... and size. Dad even cries at her would-be wedding.

Spiritual Content

Characters seem to be sincere when uttering the phrases "thank God for ..." and "please, God, tell me this isn't real." Susan and Derek prepare to take their wedding vows in a small chapel. But they never get to do so because she grows through the roof. A nonsensical song about "judgment day" mentions the Lord and flying saucers.

Sexual Content

When Susan begins growing, her wedding gown tears and seams split. Her garter snaps and knocks a man over. But the dress miraculously stays more or less intact, resembling a short miniskirt at the end of her transformation. (She wears fitted pantsuits for the remainder of the movie.)

A teen couple goes parking at night. The girl wants to smooch, but the boy's hesitant. Then a spaceship rockets overhead and neither of them is in the mood anymore. Brainless B.O.B. thinks Susan is a boy but still points out her "boobies." While speaking of Ginormica's huge size, General W.R. Monger catches himself somewhat suggestively cupping his hands in front of his chest.

Violent Content

Crash-boom cartoon action fills the screen in Monsters vs. Aliens. When the glowing meteorite nails Susan, for example, she seems momentarily crushed beneath it. Then she gets up and staggers toward the church with nothing more than a few smudges on her dress. Later, government troops shoot a large, tranquilizer-filled needle into Susan's backside. She extracts the needle and tosses it back—hitting a soldier in the foot. Upon meeting Dr. Cockroach, Susan whacks him repeatedly with a giant spoon.

When a huge robotic alien lands on Earth, the American president orders his generals to "do something violent." They comply with gusto, unleashing volleys of explosive missiles. The gigantic robot, however, wades through the detonations, smashing tanks and artillery units as he goes.

The most threatening scene involves a robot ripping apart the Golden Gate Bridge, which is filled with pedestrians and cars. Susan and her monster-mash guys soon come to the rescue, however. Another perilous moment involves Gallaxhar's threat to extract a meteor element from Susan, even if he has to "rip it out of her body one cell at a time." Two aliens are shot dead at close range. The president fires a handgun. Plenty of laser-zapping obliteration takes place in and around Gallaxhar's spaceship as well. (More alien deaths are implied).

Crude or Profane Language

One "my god"; one "OMG"; several uses of "oh my gosh." Exclamations include "what the flagnod?" and "holy Cheez-Its!"

Drug and Alcohol Content

When Susan meets her scary cellmates, she prays that she's simply having a drug-induced hallucination. At a party, Dr. Cockroach mixes the contents of several bottles of alcohol, concocting an explosive cocktail.

Other Negative Elements

Missing Link warns that if you scare Insectosaurus, he will "pee himself." The general (portrayed as a bully, yet treated as a hero) calls a scientist "nerd" and gives him an underwear wedgie. A government official must scan his hand, foot, eye, tongue, elbows—and bare backside—to gain access to a special conference room. A crisis forces the president to set the terror level at "code brown," because, he says, "I need to change my pants."

Conclusion

It's been argued that all storytelling is based on seven basic plotlines.

If that's true, then DreamWorks' latest animated actioner has got at least one of them covered in style: Girl becomes monster, girl meets other monsters, monsters battle aliens to save the world. (I think that storyline was number five on the list.) Monsters vs. Aliens brims with colorfully animated action and enjoyable characters, as well as humorous winks at other well-known monster-movie moments.

That's not to say this 3-D adventure (on most screens) offers flawless family entertainment, though. The scriptwriters occasionally swerve around the star chart in their quest for stellar laughs.

As has often been the case with DreamWorks' other animated efforts (Madagascar, Shrek, Shark Tale), problem areas predictably involve mild toilet humor, suggestive sight gags (such as the scanned backside bit) and a smattering of knotty language—all of which could easily have been avoided. While Monsters vs. Aliens is probably as good as it gets from DreamWorks on that score, the film nevertheless falls just short of the modern-day animated standard set by Pixar with films such as Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Toy Story.

Still, Monsters vs. Aliens majors on solid lessons about friendship and self-sacrifice ... and even takes the time to treat audiences to a rendition of Purple People Eater as the credits roll. All of which should keep old and (not too) young alike (mostly) grinning for its 94-minute ride.

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