"Monsters vs. Aliens," 3(D) out of 4 stars; Starring: the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Hugh Laurie; Now playing at the West Theater.
What do you get when you inject a tomato with mutated ranch dressing? One of the ridiculously hilarious stars of "Monsters vs. Aliens."
Every bride experiences duress on her wedding day, but Susan Murphy (voice of Reese Witherspoon) feels like she's been hit by a meteorite.
Because she has.
Escaping the encounter unscathed, no side effects start to take effect until she gets to the altar. Within seconds, her hair turns white, she sprouts to nearly 10 times her normal height and the Army is waiting to contain her. The next thing Susan knows, she wakes up in a government science facility with a prison uniform, and the code name Ginormica.
Now classified an official monster by the deciduous Gen. W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), she is grouped together with an array of unusual fellows: the 20,000-year-old fish-man, The Missing Link (Will Arnett); Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie), a mad scientist whose experiments have left him with the head of a bug; and a cycloptic, quivering blue mass of bicarbonate ostylezene benzoate, who prefers to be called BOB (Seth Rogen). Combined with the awesome force of the sweet-natured but imposing Insectosaurus, who stands at 350 feet tall, they are the government's dirty little secrets.
Lucky enough for Susan, who only wants her old life back, they are about to be released. But there's a catch - they have to save the Earth from an alien invasion.
Simple enough, right?
Witherspoon's cute voice is just the right tone for poor, put-upon Susan, the unlikeliest of heroes, who finds herself able to carry on even without her hunky fiance (Paul Rudd).
The monster trio is given precisely the perfect sound by Arnett as the half-evolved horn dog Link, British Laurie as the suave scientist - retaining his sense of decorum even when eating garbage and building a uranium bomb out of Legos - and especially Rogen as the easily distracted, mobile amorphous gelatin mold who gets all the best lines, despite not having a brain: "Turns out, you don't need one!"
The great vocal work continues with Sutherland as the gruff general (who always carries a spare parachute), Rainn Wilson as pompous alien overlord Gallaxhar and Stephen Colbert in the role he was born to play: President of the United States. Just keep a close eye on the doomsday button because it looks just like the coffee dispenser.
If the title characters of "Creature from the Black Lagoon," "The Fly," "The Blob" and "Godzilla" each had a goofy younger brother, it would be these guys. Likewise, Susan's stature of 49 feet, 11 inches refers to the more obscure "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman."
Nods toward a variety of B-movie creature features make this one a winner for the vintage film buff, but on a greater scale, everyone will enjoy the jolting action and animation. The 1950s Saturday matinee experience, heightened with plenty of theremin music for that rare blend of creepiness and fun, is made all the better with 3-D glasses, if you happen to be in a theater which uses the technology. Either way, it's a rip-roaring good time for children and adults alike.
Like the rest of the DreamWorks Animation oeuvre, "Monsters vs. Aliens" is more about amusement than anything else. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Instead, worry about repairing the Golden Gate Bridge, which Susan and company accidentally destroy. All in the name of national security, of course.
Now playing at the West Theater.