Monsters vs. Aliens

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Monsters vs. Aliens
A teenage girl standing tall with three monsters in front of her and a cityscape behind her.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Conrad Vernon
Rob Letterman
Produced by Lisa Stewart
Screenplay by Maya Forbes
Wallace Wolodarsky
Rob Letterman
Jonathan Aibel
Glenn Berger
Story by
  • Rob Letterman
  • Conrad Vernon
Starring Reese Witherspoon
Seth Rogen
Hugh Laurie
Will Arnett
Kiefer Sutherland
Rainn Wilson
Paul Rudd
Stephen Colbert
Music by Henry Jackman
Edited by Joyce Arrastia
Eric Dapkewicz
Distributed by Paramount Pictures1
Release dates
  • March 27, 2009 (2009-03-27)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $175 million[1]
Box office $381.5 million[1]

Monsters vs. Aliens is a 2009 American 3D computer-animated science fiction action-comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures.1 It was DreamWorks Animation's first feature film to be directly produced in a stereoscopic 3-D format instead of being converted into 3-D after completion, which added $15 million to the film's budget.[2]

The film was scheduled for a May 2009 release, but the release date was moved to March 27, 2009. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray September 29, 2009 in North America. The film features the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, and Paul Rudd.

It grossed over $381 million worldwide on a $175 million budget.[1] Although not successful enough to be followed by a sequel,[3] the film started a franchise consisting of a short film, B.O.B.'s Big Break, two television specials, Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots, and a television series with the same name.


On the day of her wedding to news weatherman Derek Dietl, Susan Murphy is struck by a meteorite and its energy causes her to suddenly grow over fifty feet in height during the ceremony, ripping her dress. She is tranquilized and awakens in a top secret government facility that houses monsters without human knowledge. She meets the warden W.R. Monger, and fellow inmates: Dr. Cockroach P.H.D., a mad scientist who became half cockroach after an experiment; B.O.B. (Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate), a brainless, living mass of goo as a result of a food flavoring mutation; Insectosaurus, a mutated bug standing at over 300 feet in height, and The Missing Link, a prehistoric fish man who was thawed from deep ice; and Susan herself has been renamed to Ginormica. Meanwhile, in deep space, an alien named Gallaxhar is alerted to the presence of quantonium; a powerful energy source on Earth, and he sends a probe to retrieve it. After the probe crash lands on Earth, the president attempts to make first contact with it by playing a keyboard version of Axel F, but it begins to rampage toward San Francisco.

Monger arranges for the freedom of the monsters if they can stop the probe and the president agrees. The robot detects the quantonium radiating through Susan's body and tries to take it from her, putting many lives in danger. The monsters work together to save the people and defeat the probe. Not to be deterred, Gallaxhar sets course for Earth to obtain the quantonium. Meanwhile; the now-free Susan returns home with her new friends and reunites with her family, but the monsters alienate themselves from the humans due to their inexperience. Susan meanwhile, meets with Derek, who harshly breaks up with her due to her new status, which may overshadow him and his career. Heartbroken, the monsters reunite, but Susan realizes her life is better as a monster and promises not to sell herself short to anyone again. Suddenly, Susan is pulled into a large space ship. Insectosaurus tries to save her, but he is shot down and supposedly killed by the craft's weapons.

In the ship, Susan breaks free of her captivity and chases Gallaxhar until she is trapped and the quantonium is extracted, returning her to her normal size. Gallaxhar then begins making clones of himself in order to launch a full-scale invasion of Earth. Outside, Monger picks up B.O.B., Cockroach and Link, and manages to get them on board the ship. They rescue Susan and make their way to the main core where Cockroach sets the ship to self-destruct to prevent the invasion. All but Susan are trapped as the blast doors close and she goes to confront Gallaxhar on the bridge. With her time running out, she sends the ball of stored quantonium down on herself, restoring her monstrous size and strength. After rescuing her friends, they flee the ship and meet with Monger, riding Insectosaurus, who now has the wings of a butterfly after having been in a cocoon following the attack. As they flee, the ship self-destructs with Gallaxhar and his army still on board.

Returning to Modesto, Susan and the monsters receive a hero's welcome. Derek, hoping to take advantage of Susan's fame for his own career tries to get back together with her, but she rejects him before a television audience. Monger then arrives, telling the monsters about a new monstrous snail called Escargantua making its way to Paris. The group then climbs on Insecto, who flies away from the scene as everyone bids them farewell and a safe trip.

Cast and characters[edit]


Reese Witherspoon at the British premiere of the film.
  • Reese Witherspoon as Susan Murphy (aka Ginormica), a normal young human woman who is struck by a radioactive meteor on her wedding day, causing her to mutate and grow to a height of 49 feet 11 inches (15.21 m). Meek and unassertive, she just wants to return to her old life. In addition to her size, she is amazingly strong and has a resistance to energy attacks.
  • Seth Rogen as B.O.B. (Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate), an indestructible gelatinous mass created when a genetically-altered tomato (which he referred to in the Halloween special as his mother) was injected with a chemically-altered ranch dessert topping. His greatest strength lies in his ability to digest any substance as well as being indestructible. His one weakness is that his mutation did not give him a brain, making him dimwitted.
  • Hugh Laurie as Dr. Cockroach, PhD, a brilliant but mad scientist who, in an experiment to imbue himself with the abilities of a cockroach, ends up with a giant cockroach's head and insect abilities, such as being able to climb walls and a high resistance to physical damage. He is charming and sophisticated in spite of his tendencies to eat garbage and laugh maniacally. He is also an avid dancer.
  • Will Arnett as The Missing Link, a 20,000-year-old fish-ape hybrid who was thawed out of an iceberg, only to escape and wreak havoc at his old lagoon habitat. Usually referred to as Link, he behaves as a macho jock most of the time, but is in reality out of shape. Despite this, he is an expert martial-artist.
  • Conrad Vernon as Insectosaurus, (often shortened to "Insecto"), formerly a 1 inch (25 mm) grub transformed by nuclear radiation into a 350 feet (110 m) monster with the ability to shoot silk out of his nose. He is unable to speak and is mesmerized by bright lights.


  • Rainn Wilson as Gallaxhar, the self-proclaimed alien king who hopes to take over Earth. He is served by gigantic robot probes (around the same size as Insectosaurus) and possesses a giant cloning machine.
  • Amy Poehler as Gallaxhar's Computer, who follows Gallaxhar's orders, albeit with a sarcastic tone.


  • Kiefer Sutherland as General Warren R. Monger, a military leader who runs a top secret facility, Area 50-Something, where monsters are kept. In an epilogue, he claims to be 90 years old, in spite of his much younger appearance.
  • Stephen Colbert as President Hathaway, the impulsive and dimwitted President of the United States.
  • Paul Rudd as Derek Dietl, a local weatherman and Susan's ex-fiancé. He jumps at whatever opportunity he has to boost his career.
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Carl Murphy, Susan's overemotional father.
  • Julie White as Wendy Murphy, Susan's loving mother.
  • Renée Zellweger as Katie, an adventurous human girl. Her date with her boyfriend Cuthbert is interrupted by the landing of Gallaxhar's robot.
  • John Krasinski as Cuthbert, Katie's more timid boyfriend.
  • Ed Helms as News Reporter. David Koch replaced Helms for the Australian edit.


The film started as an adaptation of a horror comic book, Rex Havoc,[4] in which a monster hunter Rex and his team of experts called "Ass-Kickers of the Fantastic" fight against ghouls, ghosts and other creatures.[5] The earliest development goes back to 2002, when DreamWorks first filed for a Rex Havoc trademark.[6] In a plot synopsis revealed in 2005, Rex was to assemble a team of monsters, including Ick!, Dr. Cockroach, the 50,000 Pound Woman and Insectosaurus, to fight aliens for disrupting cable TV service.[4] In the following years, the film's story diverged away from the original Rex Havoc, with directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman ending up creating the storyline from scratch.[7]

Production designer David James stated that the film is "a return to what made us nerds in the first place," getting classic movie monsters and relaunching them in a contemporary setting. Director Conrad Vernon added that he found it would be a great idea to take hideous monsters and giving them personalities and satirizing the archetypes.[8] Each of the five monsters has traits traceable to sci-fi/horror B movies from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, although none is a mere copy of an older character.[9] Susan, who grows to be 49 feet 11 inches tall, was inspired by Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Dr. Cockroach represents The Fly and The Curse of Frankenstein, while B.O.B. is an amalgam of slithering and slimy characters that were featured in the films, including The Blob and The Crawling Eye. Insectosaurus, a 350-foot-tall monster, is a nod to a 1961 Japanese film Mothra. According to Vernon, the Missing Link has no direct inspiration. He "just represents anything prehistoric that comes back to life and terrorizes people."[9] For the San Francisco sequence, the producers researched lots of films and photographs for an accurate depiction of the city, and filmed animator Line Andersen, who had a similar body type to Ginormica—tall, thin, athletic-looking—walking alongside a scale model of San Francisco, to capture better how a person not comfortable with being too big with an environment would walk around it.[8]

Ed Leonard, CTO of DreamWorks Animation, says it took approximately 45.6 million computing hours to make Monsters vs. Aliens, more than eight times as many as the original Shrek. Several hundred Hewlett-Packard xw8600 workstations were used, along with a 'render farm' of HP ProLiant blade servers with over 9,000 server processor cores, to process the animation sequence. Animators used 120 terabytes of data to complete the film. They used 6 TB for an explosion scene.[10]

Since Monsters vs. Aliens, all feature films released by DreamWorks Animation are produced in a stereoscopic 3-D format, using Intel's InTru3D technology.[11] IMAX 3D, RealD and 2D versions were released.



To promote the 3-D technology that is used in Monsters vs. Aliens, DreamWorks ran a 3-D trailer before halftime in the U.S. broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009. Due to the limitations of current television technology, ColorCode 3D glasses were distributed at SoBe stands at major national grocers. The Monsters, except Susan and Insectosaurus, also appeared in a 3-D SoBe commercial airing after the trailer. Bank of America gave away vouchers which covered the cost of an upgrade to a 3-D theatrical viewing of the film for its customers.[12]

Home media[edit]

Monsters vs. Aliens was released to DVD and Blu-ray in the US and Canada on September 29, 2009 and on October 26, 2009 in the UK. The home release for both the DVD and Blu-ray format only contain the 2D version of the movie. However, the release is packaged with a new short, B.O.B.'s Big Break, which is the more traditional 3D that required green and magenta glasses.[13] Also included are four pairs of 3D glasses.[13] On January 6, 2010, it was announced that a 3D version would be released on Blu-ray.[14] On February 24, a tentative March release date was set for the UK, where anyone who buys a Samsung 3D TV or 3D Blu-ray player will get a copy.[15] On March 8, it was reported that the 3D Blu-ray would be released in the United States, also with Samsung 3D products, on March 21.[16]


Critical reception[edit]

Based on 209 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Monsters vs. Aliens has an overall approval rating from critics of 72%, with an average score of 6.5/10.[17] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 56, based on 35 reviews.[18] Roger Ebert gave the film a mixed review, saying "I suppose kids will like this movie", but said "I didn't find [it] rich with humor."

Box office[edit]

On its opening weekend, the film opened at No. 1, grossing $59.3 million in 4,104 theaters.[19] Of that total, the film grossed an estimated $5.2 million in IMAX theaters, becoming the 5th highest-grossing IMAX debut, behind Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Dark Knight and Watchmen.[20] The movie made $198,351,526 in the United States and Canada making it the second-highest grossing animated movie behind Up. Worldwide, it is the third-highest grossing animated film of 2009 with a total of $381,509,870 behind Up and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.


In 2009, the film was nominated for four Annie Awards, including Voice Acting in a Feature Production for Hugh Laurie.[21] Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rogen were both nominated for best voice actor and actress at the 2010 Kids' Choice Awards for voicing Susan and B.O.B,[22] but lost to Jim Carrey for Disney's A Christmas Carol.[23] Monsters vs. Aliens was also nominated for Best Animated film but lost to Up.[23] On June 24, 2009 the film won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film.[24]

Award Category Name Outcome
Annie Awards[25] Annie Award for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production Scott Cegielski Nominated
Annie Award for Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Tom Owens Won
Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Hugh Laurie Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards[22] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Seth Rogen Nominated
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Favorite Animated Movie Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Saturn Awards[24] Saturn Award for Best Animated Film Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Visual Effects Society[26] Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Terran Boylan
David Burgess
Scott Cegielski
David Weatherly
Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture David P. Allen
Amaury Aubel
Scott Cegielski
Alain De Hoe


Monsters vs. Aliens: Music from the Motion Picture
Film score by Henry Jackman
Released March 24, 2009
Genre Score
Length 65:52
Label Lakeshore

Track listing:[27][28]

All music composed by Henry Jackman, except as noted.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "A Giant Transformation"     3:05
2. "When You See (Those Flying Saucers)"   The Buchanan Brothers 2:17
3. "Tell Him"   The Exciters 2:35
4. "A Wedding Interrupted"     2:09
5. "Meet the Monsters"     2:29
6. "Planet Claire"   The B-52's 4:37
7. "Do Something Violent!"     2:07
8. "The Grand Tour"     2:10
9. "Oversized Tin Can"     3:38
10. "The Battle at Golden Gate Bridge"     6:08
11. "Didn't Mean to Crush You"     1:51
12. "Reminiscing"   Little River Band 4:14
13. "Imprisoned by a Strange Being"     5:28
14. "Galaxar as a Squidling"     2:06
15. "March of the Buffoons"     5:15
16. "Wooly Bully"   Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs 2:21
17. "Susan's Call to Arms"     3:02
18. "The Ginormica Suite"     5:51
19. "Monster Mojo"     2:08
20. "The Purple People Eater"   Sheb Wooley 2:15
Total length:

Other media[edit]

Beside the main film, Monsters vs. Aliens franchise also includes a video game, a short film B.O.B.'s Big Break, and two television specials, Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots. A TV series based on the film started airing on Nickelodeon on March 23, 2013, which was cancelled after one season due to low ratings and the network's plans to refocus on more "Nickish" shows.[29]


  1. ^ In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures and transferred to 20th Century Fox.[30]


  1. ^ a b c "Monsters Vs. Aliens". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (March 11, 2008). "First look: Monsters vs. Aliens is the ultimate; a 3-D 'first'". USA Today. Retrieved May 16, 2008. 
  3. ^ Lieberman, David (April 26, 2011). "DreamWorks Animation Pins Hopes On ‘Kung Fu Panda 2′ After 1Q Earnings Fall Short". Deadline New York. Don’t look for DreamWorks Animation to produce additional movie genre parodies similar to its send up of mob films in Shark Tale, monster movies in Monsters vs. Aliens, and superhero films in Megamind. “All shared an approach and tone and idea of parody, and did not travel well internationally,” CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts in a conference call after earnings were announced. “We don’t have anything like that coming on our schedule now.” 
  4. ^ a b LaPorte, Nicole (September 20, 2005). "DreamWorks grooming toons". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ Torfe, Pat (September 2, 2005). "Rex Havoc's a Dream". Joblo. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Rex Havoc". Trademarkia. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ Guillen, Michael (February 9, 2009). "MONSTERS vs. ALIENS—Jeffrey Katzenberg Presentation". The Evening Class. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Modern Movie Monster-Making", Monsters vs. Aliens DVD
  9. ^ a b Barnes, Brooks (March 19, 2009). "The Monsters That Inspired ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  10. ^ Boshoff, Theo (March 31, 2009). "Monsters, aliens come alive". ITWeb. 
  11. ^ "Intel, Dreamworks Animation Form Strategic Alliance to Revolutionize 3-D Filmmaking Technology" (Press release). Intel. July 8, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  12. ^ Nikki Finke (Mar 19, 2009). "WHAAAAAT? Bailed Out Bank Of America Paying Consumers To See Hollywood Film". Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily. 
  13. ^ a b "Monsters vs. Aliens Hits DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 29". July 8, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2009. 
  14. ^ ""Monsters Vs. Aliens" becomes first 3D Blu-Ray". January 6, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  15. ^ "'Monsters vs. Aliens' 3D Blu-ray Hits UK in March – Only From Samsung". February 24, 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Samsung 3D Blu-rays don’t work?". March 8, 2010. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Monsters vs. Aliens Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Monsters vs. Aliens". Metacritic. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Weekend Box Office Estimates (U.S.) for March 27–29 weekend". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved March 29, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Weekend Report: ‘Monsters,’ ‘Haunting’ Scare Up Big Business". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 29, 2009. 
  21. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (December 1, 2009). "'Up' and 'Coraline' Lead the 2009 Annie Award Nominees". HitFix. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Miley Cyrus, Twilight Lead 2010 Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards Nominations". Take 40. February 15, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "Kids Choice Awards 2010 Winners". The Wall Street Journal. March 27, 2010. Archived from the original on March 29, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b Stransky, Tanner (June 25, 2010). "Saturn Awards: 'Avatar,' James Cameron, and 'Lost' take top honors". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  25. ^ "37th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". Annie Awards. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  26. ^ Kilday, Gregg (January 18, 2010). "'Avatar' leads Visual Effects Society noms". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  27. ^ "SoundtrackINFO: Monsters vs. Aliens Soundtrack (complete album tracklisting)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  28. ^ "iTunes – Music – Monsters Vs. Aliens (Music from the Motion Picture) by Various Artists". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  29. ^ Schooley, Bob (February 16, 2014). "Ratings, desire of Nick to get back to the more "Nickish" shows.". Twitter. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  30. ^ Chney, Alexandra (July 29, 2014). "DreamWorks Animation Q2 Earnings Fall Short of Estimates, SEC Investigation Revealed". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]