Monsters vs. Aliens 

ed/Movie%20review%20thumbnails/monsters.jpg" width="150" align="right" vspace="10" border="0" />First off, let me say that the trailers to "Monsters vs. Aliens" do it no favors.

For whatever reason, the marketing geniuses at DreamWorks Animation opted to spotlight some of the more humor-challenged moments involving bathroom humor and a mention of "boobies." The good news is that the picture is much better than its trailers let on "? one of the better efforts in the DreamWorks canon.

Still, the folks at Pixar don't need to lose any sleep just yet. "Monsters vs. Aliens" doesn't aspire for more than comedy. It's light, playful and boasts genuine laughs, but it lacks the depth and memorable characters that have made Pixar the go-to studio for family-friendly animation.

Loaded with winking references to monster flicks of the 1950s, this 3-D yarn unfolds after a meteorite strikes Modesto, Calif. (the hometown of George Lucas, for those keeping score of inside jokes), shortly before the wedding of Susan Murphy (voiced by Reese Witherspoon, "Four Christmases"). The space-borne goo transforms perky Susan into a 49-foot, 11-inch giantess with white hair and a provocatively ripped bridal gown.

She is then whisked away by a crusty general (Kiefer Sutherland, TV's "24") to a top-secret government agency where she is housed alongside monster knockoffs of '50s-era sci-fi: mad scientist Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie, TV's "House"), the Missing Link (Will Arnett, "The Rocker") and a gelatinous doofus dubbed B.O.B. (Seth Rogen, "Pineapple Express"). The creatures eventually win their freedom when Uncle Sam needs them to battle Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson, TV's "The Office"), an evil space alien intent on conquering Earth and renaming it "? wait for it "? Gallaxhar's Planet.

There are gags aplenty to keep "Monsters vs. Aliens" moving at a brisk clip. Much of it is inspired, such as a climactic battle in which Susan uses a couple of convertibles as makeshift Rollerblades to traverse the Golden Gate bridge. Stephen Colbert, he of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" fame, has some brief but memorable turns as the voice of the president of the United States.

And in a genre that is usually male-centric, the movie deserves props for its story of female empowerment, as Susan's newfound power opens her eyes to the jerkiness of fianc

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