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Monsters vs Aliens: Movie Review for Parents & Children

6 May 2009 2 Comments
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Monsters vs Aliens Movie Logo

Monsters vs Aliens Movie Logo

Monsters vs Aliens (2009)

Primary Audience: Kids, Family, Teens, Adults
Genre: Animation, Sci-Fi, Family, Kids, Comedy
Length: 1 Hour 34 Minutes
Rated: PG

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Colbert, Hugh Laurie, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, Renee Zellweger
Director: Rob Letterman (Shark Tale), Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2)
Producer: DreamWorks Animation

Dreamworks vs Pixar

Finding Nemo. Toy Story. Cars. What do these films have in common? They were considered excellent, well made films great for the family and safe for children. Each were produced by Pixar who now holds both the benefit as well as the burden of increasingly high expectations. Every year, we expect a clean and great blockbuster to come out of Pixar Studios.

Then there is Dreamworks Animation, film studio of “Monsters vs Aliens”. Dreamwork films have always been a mixed bag. They’ve had great, safe animated films such as Shrek, Antz, Prince of Egypt and Kungfu Panda. But they’ve also had shockers such as Shrek 2, full of really inappropriate adult themed content which unfortunately went on to be their biggest grosser to date. Money talks and the success they’ve found catering to the adult audience will only further more such films. Unfortunately many people were caught off guard as many of these films are presented as family friendly movies.

How about Monsters vs Aliens? It continues Dreamwork’s long tradition of movies. Good fun movie but with occasional potty humor and inappropriate scenes.

Monsters vs Aliens: Story, Film making

Monsters vs Aliens is a very enjoyable flick. It is a very simple story playing off of 50’s sci-fi films. It is a movie that requires very little thinking which is great if you are looking to just relax and have a good time.

*Semi-spoiler: General Outline in the next paragraph*
The movie is about Susan, who is a normal young woman who then gets hit by a meteor changing her into a giant woman with great strength. She is captured by the government and kept in a secret facility. Then when aliens invade the earth, her and her follow “monsters” are called into action to fight these unknown foes that the traditional military are unable to handle. This is about as far as the story goes. Again, not an in depth story or an amazing plot, but a simple action flick to enjoy with a bunch of friends. If you have seen Pixar’s “Incredibles” that is an example of a movie with more story depth and several plot lines.

Is Monsters vs Aliens safe for children? For adults?

Monsters vs Aliens Characters & Themes

Monsters vs Aliens Characters & Themes

This movie slides in several adult oriented themes as is typical of recent Dreamwork animation films. Most adults probably would not bat an eye mainly because they are exposed to crude humor all the time and it is true that compared to most flicks this is “relatively” clean. Most people would probably say “what is the big deal” or name off hundreds of movies that are worser off.

First let’s be clear, just because there are worser examples doesn’t make any crude humor or scene innately right, and just because we are exposed to crude humor all the time doesn’t mean it is necessarily acceptable or even needed. Being that these animation flicks are often catered to families and millions of children end up watching the movie, I think it is valid for someone to bring out some of the more adult centered themes to scrutiny.

There are several instances in the movie that most would agree is inappropriate for young children. I say it is just inappropriate period, but hey I am not here to argue this point (or am I?).

Potty Humor: This movie has potty humor such as talking about “boobies”, monsters using snot to fight aliens, talking about the giant monster peeing on himself among others. One character rushes in, then is shown zipping up his pants zipper. Another character (as seen in the trailer) scans himself into a secret facility, except the scanning involved scanning his bare bottoms. Again nothing deathly serious, but only because culturally we are so used to it.

Is it really Clean?: Potty humor is one thing, but then there was a scene where a couple drives up in a car into the woods. They park, and the girl (who is with a high-school-jock type) ends up being very aggressive with obvious intentions. The scene is considered PG and clean because nothing technically happens (thank goodness with all the kids in there), but still think about how scenes like that in the media affect what is considered the norm and what is ok and not ok.

If someone mentions that kind of act or scene to a child, or perhaps let’s say your child, I assume your child would find it very, very uncomfortable. But what happens when a child is exposed to this kind of scene again and again and again. Watching promiscuous living by skinny “beautiful” celebrities on TV shows, commercials, and even in a toned down but none the less similar message in family animated movie? They look around and everyone just laughs at it, everyone seems to accept it. Crude humor? Laughter. Disproportionately skinny main character in tight clothes? Admired. No one addresses it or points it out afterwards. They see it all around them. One day that child might find him or herself in a similar situation and boy it doesn’t seem that unfathomable anymore does it? Sounds familiar? Sounds like our generation, only the youth generation now is exposed exponentially.

All I am saying is this scene was absolutely unnecessary to the plot (again a very simple plot to begin with). Being that this is a PG film and an animated film, there will be ton of children (and adults) being exposed to one more example that only affirms that this kind of behavior (high school, driving off to some remote area, doing stuff in a car) is not uncommon.

Parents be aware that though this film is a million times cleaner than Shrek 2, there are some mild scenes that if your child was to see it, should be addressed afterwards. Of course the safer route is to just have them watch a clean film, which unfortunately are hard to find these days (Pixar I am counting on you this month!). But again we are all products of this culture so it isn’t just about the children.

Why you hating on Monsters vs Aliens?

Don’t get me wrong. The film was fun, entertaining and outside of a few moments as mentioned above it was a great film. I enjoyed it tremendously. I had the added bonus of seeing it in 3D. The space scenes were incredible as stars and planets would jump off the screen. It was very memorable. But this is Clean Cut Media where I hope people can discuss the finer messages and influence of media so it is what it is.

There are some underlying themes that were positive. One great one is that there is more than that one ideal romantic love that will make a you happy. The reality is that the special someone is flawed just like everyone else. The movie shows that these hideous monsters shouldn’t be judged from appearances and there are many instances highlighting the value of friendship. So again all in all a nice film by Dreamworks, just lay down on the adult humor or at least create films that are clearly for adults so no family is caught off guard.

  • Have you seen the film? Please share your thoughts!

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2 Comments »

  • Noel Gleaves said:

    Guy, speak about a fantastic post! I?ve stumbled across your weblog a few instances within the past, but I typically forgot to bookmark it. But not again! Thanks for posting the way in which you do, I truly recognize seeing somebody who in fact includes a viewpoint and isn?t really just bringing back up crap like nearly all other writers these days. Keep it up!

  • cleancutmedia (author) said:

    thanks for your kind words Noel
    hope to do many more!

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