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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monsters vs Aliens

Once again I have been hoodwinked by a movie title that is as misleading as Race to Witch Mountain was. Contrary to the obvious, Monsters vs. Aliens is not a documentary about one of my family reunions, but is about actual sci fi monsters and outer space aliens courtesy of Disney, the same studio that brought the world that misnomered Race to Witch Mountain. I don’t know what it is about Disney and its need to tease its pre-adolescent audiences with titles that can be so easily misconstrued by those of us who have clearly lived beyond the boundaries of puberty and have enough traumatic life experience to interpret a title like Mary Poppins as a psycho-sexual tale about someone like my cousin ‘Pickle’, who was always jacked up on psychotropic drugs to keep him as ‘merry’ as possible since he otherwise had a penchant for self-gratification while incessantly baking. In this case, Pickle always had an erotic attraction to the Pillsbury doughboy, Poppin’ Fresh, and let’s just say that when our family gathers for Thanksgiving and Pickle inevitably shows up with a basket of Pillsbury Cresents™, nobody is much in the mood for dinner rolls.

In my world, Monsters vs. Aliens best describes the one time my father’s family and my mother’s family agreed to what would eventually become known as the “Abu Ghraib Picnic” on both sides of my family. If love was in the air that day, it was the love of napalm in the morning because there couldn’t have been two families less meant to spend time together, let alone share a meal, especially outside, where one’s inhibitions to the throwing of food might be greatly lessened. My daddy’s Uncle Herman, nearly ninety five and a lifetime Republican, should never have been allowed within one hundred yards of my maternal grandmother, a feisty Democrat, who has never quite gotten over her schoolgirl crush on Woodrow Wilson and has held the world belief that Republicanism is a form of brain damage brought on by being dropped on the head as a baby. In Bush 43’s case, she thinks his mother must have attached him to the end of a too-long bungee cord and let him jump out of his crib over and over and over.

Their political argument began shortly after they both arrived at the secluded park in Maine we chose, aptly located on Last Nerve Bluff, overlooking the crashing Atlantic Ocean below. It only ended when Grandma Cecil’s voice gave out, about two hours after the sun went down and four hours after she dumped a bowl of potato salad on Herman’s head. He would have kept on anyway but his Polygrip™ was loosening up and he knew if he continued espousing the joys of Reaganism much more he’d be doing it without his teeth.

That was the least of the drama that day, however. The “Abu Ghraib” moment involved an idiotic idea by my second cousin Mitchell (the paternal, i.e. “Monster” side), who waited until most of the 20-somethings were “self-medicated” with whatever alcoholic beverages they could find that would make attending this family outing tolerable, and then he suggested a hot game of “Greasy Twister.” I know, I’d never heard of it either, but since it was a warm summer’s day and we were near the beach, most of the young’uns were either wearing their swimsuits under their clothes or had their suits with them, so it didn’t take much to get a small crowd ready to play. Basically, it was just regular Twister® but before you took your turn you got squirted down with a bottle of Wesson Oil™ to make the game all slippery and sensual. Sounds like fun, eh? But this session was doomed before it began when my Uncle, Owen (from the maternal or “Alien” side) replaced the Wesson Oil™ in the bottle with Bondini™, a waterish relative of Superglue™.

The idea was for each player to make their initial move on the polka-dot colored tarp before anyone got a second turn, so there was a pile-up of eleven players wrapped together in a human pretzel, flesh upon flesh, bodies grinding against one another in awkward and sometimes uncomfortable stances as each did their best to maintain their “right foot on red” or “left hand on yellow” as instructed by their personal spin of the wheel. Suddenly, and almost as a collective mind, the crowd of my personal Monsters vs. Aliens realized they were stuck together as one dreadful entity, a stack of stupidity in bikinis and Speedos, unable to pull themselves apart from the human pyramid they had unintentionally created. Ironically, this sight was so perversely funny, it caused Owen to double over in laughter, then slip and fall off the edge of the bluff, which unfortunately did mean it was the last asinine prank he’d ever pull again. If only he had used even a few drops of that Bondini™ on himself, he probably could have kept his feet planted firmly on the ground and saved himself from the rocks below. Even more ironic, Owen’s sister, Aunt Ethel insisted to everybody that she’d heard on tv that the quickest way to dissolve Superglue™ was to pee on whatever was stuck together that wasn’t meant to be. That caused quite a riot, but when the alternative was waiting for someone to drive into the nearest town big enough to have a Home Depot or a Lowe’s about an hour south of where we were, then locate the solvent, buy enough of it to do the job, and finally drive back… well, let’s just say by the end of the day everybody was either pissed off, pissed on, or both, and oh, it turns out it’s still just jellyfish stings that pee will help relieve. Ethel always was a tad confused.

Fortunately, you won’t be at all confused though if you do go see Disney’s animated Monsters vs. Aliens. There’s no Aunt Ethel in it, but it one fantastic ride for the whole family, and nobody gets whizzed on either. These monsters and aliens are the phantasmagorical type, not the real deal like we see every day in our own families or on the news. Disney’s monsters include B.O.B., i.e., Bicarbonate Ostylezene Benzoate, (voiced by Seth Rogan; Zack and Miri Make a Porno), a gelatinous blue blob which can hardly be seen as “monstrous” since he has no brain and appears as happy and harmless as an aqua-tinged game show host. His cronies include a “mad” scientist, Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie; tv’s “House”), a brilliant formerly-human physicist who accidently turned himself into an insect a la The Fly, The Missing Link (Will Arnett; The Rocker), a scaly fish-tailed gorilla, and the enormous Godzillesque Insectosaur, the cutest Tokyo-destroying mutant bug ever. All of these guys live in a secret government prison run by General Warren Monger (Kiefer Sutherland; tv’s “24”) where they are hidden away from the rest of the world to keep everybody ‘out there’ feeling happily and safely human.

Soon they are joined by the real star of the show, a gal named Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon; Four Christmases), who has the unfortunate happenstance to be in the direct path of a radioactive meteorite as it hits the earth just moments before her wedding to the world’s most narcissistic would-be network anchor-twit of all time, Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd; I Love You, Man). The next thing you know Susan springs up to a towering 38 feet and she finds herself rounded up and stuck in the same prison with the other “Monsters” and now labeled “Ginormica” by the military. Here she is expected to spend the rest of her life until…

Aliens, or at least one alien plus thousands of his clones arrive to destroy the planet. Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson; tv’s “The Office”) is in search of Quantonium, which, curiously enough, was what Susan absorbed from the meteorite and what caused her sudden growth spurt. For this, he is more than willing to exterminate all life on the earth in the process. Hmmm. What’s a world to do? Well President Hathaway (Stephen Colbert; tv’s "The Colbert Report") knows the answer: Unleash the monsters, of course!

Now I can already hear your eyes rolling out there in cyberspace, my Sweetmeats, but this is a whole lot more than just the usual zap ‘em, slap ‘em, send ‘em all back to Uranus and forget about it kind of thing. Well, okay, mostly it is that, but the deal is this is all about the technology. Monsters vs. Aliens is presented at the Essex Cinemas in Real 3D and it is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, It’s a hundred times more advanced than any 3-D film I’ve seen at Disneyworld or on a movie screen in the past, so the pure enjoyment to be found in Monsters vs. Aliens is as much from the clever effects and colors that put you right in the action as from the plot and the jokes written by scripters Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (The Rocker), and Jonathan Aibel and Glem Berger (Kung Fu Panda), as well as story creators and co-directors Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2) and Rob Letterman (Shark Tale).

The talent working on this film is ginormous and it shows. Every frame pops with “Wow!” moments that will have you swerving, ducking, giggling, and wishing you too could be a monster of the Disney kind. At least they don’t glue their relatives into a ball of sweat-filled misery. Well, at least not yet. We’ll have to wait for the sequel to be absolutely sure, but even if they do, I’m willing to forgive them because they are so darned cute. Even the cockroach.

1 comment:

Clamzilla said...

Well slap my ass and call me Louise, you are absolutely right! I must have been sleeping when I wrote that. Good call, Sweet Cheeks.