DreamWorks continues its streak of lagging noticeably behind Pixar with its newest release, the 3-D animated feature Monsters vs. Aliens. It's the story of Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon), whose wedding to a local weatherman is tragically derailed when she is hit by a meteor and becomes 50 feet tall. She is then whisked away to a secret military facility where she meets a host of other monsters: B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), The Missing Link (Will Arnett), Dr. Cockroach, and the adorable/retarded Insectosaurus. After two months of imprisonment with her ragtag band of good-hearted yet uniquely flawed compatriots, Susan, now known as Ginormica, and the gang are mobilized to fight a sinister alien who wants to destroy the earth. It's monsters versus aliens, people.

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The movie is packed with bright colors, stupid jokes, and very little downtime, as well as some mindless 3-D showing off to keep kids glued to the screen (3-D is like child catnip). Adults, however, will have less to rave about. The film is loaded with pop-culture references (Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dr. Strangelove, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes) that will probably be lost on the young ones and were obviously thrown in for the parents. But beyond the initial, "Oh, hey, that's from The Fly," they fail to materialize into anything interesting.

In that same spirit of trying to wrangle in grown-ups, the movie is also bursting with celebrity cameos. It is crammed full of them. Nearly every single character is voiced by an A- or B-list star. Renée Zellweger has something like two lines. Insectosaurus doesn't even have lines, he just growls and roars, and yet the producers still decided to hire Jimmy Kimmel to do his voice. I doubt there will be scores of little kids nudging each other and pointing out that Dr. Cockroach is voiced by the guy from House M.D., so it's easy enough to conclude that the stunt casting was, yet again, a little treat for mom and dad. Unfortunately, the money spent on Kiefer Sutherland's voice box could have been better used to improve some of the lackluster visuals—a mass of boring, pastel rectangles does not a San Francisco make. Monsters vs. Aliens is nothing special, but it's still cute. And I'll be damned if it wasn't entertaining to giggle along with a bunch of 6-year-olds at Rogen's THC-soaked chuckle. recommended

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