Celebrity voices animate science fiction kid flick

If you’ve ever struggled to find a film that can entertain both adults and children, Dreamworks Animation has just made that search a bit easier. Their newest animated adventure, ‘Monsters vs. Aliens,’ joins films like ‘Over the Hedge’ and last year’s ‘Kung Fu Panda’ with a creative array of kid friendly jokes and pop-cultural references that can recapture an accompanying parent’s inner-child. However, if there’s one thing certain about these films, it’s that their innate simplicity can sometimes keep them from being truly unforgettable. Like many other Dreamworks Animation films, the voice talent of ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ fantastically makes a silly story idea feel authentic. Reese Witherspoon lends her voice to Susan, an unlucky bride-to-be who is morphed into a 50-foot woman after being struck by a meteor on her wedding day. When the government places her in a top-secret containment facility, a misfit group of monsters are eager to greet Susan. They include a scheming mad scientist cockroach voiced by Hugh Laurie (TV’s Dr. House) and a scene-stealing blue gelatin mass with no brain voiced by Seth Rogen. Eventually, the team of monsters is granted release by their captor General Monger; a ‘Looney Tunes’ version of ’24’s’ Jack Bauer voiced by Kiefer Sutherland himself. In exchange for their freedom, Monger asks them to destroy a recently landed alien robot terrorizing San Francisco. Much like the inclusion of Susan’s struggle with becoming a monster, ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ remains in flight due to a constant resurgence of character emotions. Instead of making quick characterizations out of their iconic monsters, directors Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon maintain characters capable of providing a rewarding and heartfelt story instead of simply relying on jokes poking fun at their physical nature. Within their humor, it’s entirely evident that Letterman and Vernon fuel their film with a die-hard respect for 1950s sci-fi movies. Much of this stellar animation shines with hysterical comments on absurd B movie plot lines, especially if you can catch a screening in glorious IMAX 3D. While it might not reach the perpetual heights of Pixar’s extraordinary ‘WALL-E,’ ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ provides entertainment that’s worth looking under the bed for in the middle of the night.