'Monsters vs. Aliens' is an any-D delight

Full disclosure: I saw Monsters vs. Aliens in 2-D. No dorky plastic glasses, no alien ooze flying at my head.

More full disclosure: I liked it.

An amalgam of the vintage sci-fier Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman and Pixar's Monsters Inc. (come on, DreamWorks, admit it), Monsters vs. Aliens is a goofy computer-animated romp that works just fine in the traditional moviegoing format. (Despite the "InTru 3D" hype, only a third of theaters nationwide will be showing the poppin'-in-your-face version.)

The plot, of course, is completely grounded in reality: A planet in a far-off galaxy explodes, sending a meteorite crashing to Earth - specifically to the California church grounds where one perky Susan Murphy (voice of Reese Witherspoon) is about to be wed.

But before she can say "I do," she's flattened by the extraterrestrial projectile.

And when she emerges, she's glowing green, her hair turns platinum white, and she starts to grow - and grow and grow. Her would-be husband (Paul Rudd), a narcissistic TV weathercaster, flees in horror.

So does everyone else.

Captured by the military (she's drugged and tied, like Gulliver on the Lilliput shores), Susan is taken to a top-secret prison, where the government holds mutants and monsters.

"This place is X-Files wrapped in a cover-up and deep-fried in a paranoid conspiracy," explains Gen. W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), who oversees the operation and introduces Susan to Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), the half-fish/half-ape Missing Link (Will Arnett), the one-eyed quaking blue mass BOB (Seth Rogen), and the gargantuan Insectosaurus (a speechless monster that looks like a creature from Hayao Miyazaki's sketchbook).

And here, apparently, Susan - renamed Ginormica - is to spend the rest of her days.

Not so fast: Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson), a four-eyed, tentacled nutjob from outer space, is invading Earth with his army of alien robot clones, and it's left to Susan and her fellow monsters to save the day, and the world.

Directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon (Shark Tale and Shrek 2, respectively), Monsters vs. Aliens moves from one big, wild-action set piece to the next (a battle on the Golden Gate Bridge, a face-off on Gallaxhar's spaceship). Susan is rendered with huge almond-shaped eyes and towering cheekbones (she's a babe), the monsters are wisecracking and weird, and lots of stuff happens in the foreground of the frame - so if you're wearing those 3-D glasses, get ready to duck.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.


Monsters vs. Aliens

Directed by Conrad Vernon, Rob Letterman. With Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Colbert, Kiefer Sutherland, Seth Rogen, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, Will Arnett. Distributed by Paramount/Dreamworks Animation.

Running time: 1 hours, 34 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG (for sci-fi action, some crude humor and mild language).