Monsters vs. Aliens
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Rob Letterman
  • Conrad Vernon
Produced byLisa Stewart
Edited by
  • Joyce Arrastia
  • Eric Dapkewicz
Music byHenry Jackman
Distributed byParamount Pictures[2][1]
DreamWorks Animation[1]
Release date
  • March 27, 2009 (2009-03-27) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$175 million[3]
Box office$381.5 million[3]

Monsters vs. Aliens is a 2009 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures.[4] The film was directed by Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman and features the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Stephen Colbert.

The film involves a group of misfit monsters (Susan, also known as Ginormica, a woman who was hit by a giant meteorite on her wedding day and grew to be 50 feet tall, B.O.B., an indestructible gelatinous mass-created when a dessert topping was combined with a tomato, Dr. Cockroach, a scientist who became a bug man after his experiment went wrong, the Missing Link, a 20,000-year-old macho fish man who was thawed out by Arctic explorers, and Insectosaurus, a 350-foot tall grub after being mutated by nuclear radiation) hired by the United States Armed Forces to stop an alien invasion and save the day in exchange for freedom. 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.[5]

Monsters vs. Aliens was released on March 27, 2009 in the United States in 2-D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, and 4DX. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $381 million worldwide on a $175 million budget.[3] Although not successful enough to be followed by a sequel,[6] 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 on Nickelodeon.


In Modesto, California, Susan Murphy is going to be married to news weatherman Derek Dietl. Just before the ceremony, she is hit by a meteorite from a destroyed planet, and its radiation causes her to glow green and grow to an enormous size of 49 feet and 11 inches with her hair turning white during the wedding. Everyone at the wedding escapes through the front door before the church collapses, and Derek gets knocked out by several planks of wood, but giant Susan saves him. A U.S. military detachment tranquilizes and captures her. She awakens in a top-secret government facility that houses monsters of which the public are ignorant, where she meets General W.R. Monger, the Army officer in charge of the facility and her fellow monster inmates: Dr. Cockroach Ph.D., a scientist who became half-human, half-cockroach after an experiment gone wrong; B.O.B. (Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate), a brainless and living mass of blue goo that is a result of a food flavoring mutation; Insectosaurus, a massive bug mutated by nuclear radiation standing 350 feet in height that attacked Tokyo; and The Missing Link, a prehistoric 20,000-year-old macho fish-ape hybrid who was thawed from deep ice by scientists. Susan, called "Ginormica" by the government is forbidden any contact with her friends and family, leaving her feeling increasingly isolated and lonely.

On a mysterious spaceship in deep space, a squid-like extraterrestrial villain named Gallaxhar is alerted to the presence of quantonium, a powerful energy source on Earth, and he sends a robotic probe to retrieve it. The probe later lands on Earth, where the President of the United States attempts to make first contact by playing "Axel F" for it, but the probe goes on a destructive rampage, heading straight for San Francisco, despite unsuccessful attempts by the U.S. Armed Forces to destroy it. Monger convinces the President to grant the monsters their freedom if they can stop the probe and become heroes. In San Francisco, the robot detects the quantonium radiating through Ginormica's body and tries to take it from her, putting many lives at risk. At the Golden Gate Bridge, Insectosaurus, The Missing Link, Dr. Cockroach, B.O.B., and Ginormica manage to destroy the giant robot by using parts of the bridge itself.

Gallaxhar sets a course for Earth to obtain the quantonium in person while the now-free Ginormica returns home with her new friends and reunites with her family. However, her companions alienate themselves from Ginormica's family due to their inexperience with the real world, while Derek breaks off his engagement with Ginormica by claiming that he cannot marry someone who would overshadow him and his career. Initially heartbroken by this breakup, Ginormica finally realizes that her life as a monster was even better than she thought and promises to Dr. Cockroach, The Missing Link, and B.O.B. to never underestimate herself again. Suddenly, Ginormica is pulled into Gallaxhar's ship by a tractor beam. Insectosaurus tries to save her, but he is shot down by the phasoid cannons, seemingly killing him.

Onboard the ship, upon learning Gallaxhar was the one who caused danger in her town and hurt Insectosaurus, Ginormica furiously breaks free from her prison cell and chases down Gallaxhar, only to be trapped by a machine that extracts the quantonium from her body, shrinking her back to her normal size but failing to change her hair back to normal. Gallaxhar then uses the extracted quantonium to create clones of himself in order to launch a full-scale invasion of Earth. Monger manages to get B.O.B., The Missing Link, and Dr. Cockroach on board the ship, where they rescue Ginormica and make their way to the main power core where Dr. Cockroach sets the ship to self-destruct to prevent the invasion. All but Ginormica are trapped as the blast doors close and she personally confronts Gallaxhar on the bridge. With time running out, she sends the ball of stored quantonium down on herself, restoring her monstrous size and strength. After rescuing her friends from being crushed to death by the power core, they flee the ship and are rescued by Monger and Insectosaurus, who has metamorphosed into a giant butterfly. The ship then self-destructs, killing Gallaxhar and his army.

Returning to Modesto, Ginormica, B.O.B., The Missing Link, Dr. Cockroach, and Insectosaurus receive a hero's welcome. Hoping to take advantage of Ginormica’s fame for his own career, Derek tries to get back together with her and gain an interview, but she rejects and humiliates him on live channel. Monger then arrives to inform the monsters that a new monstrous snail called "Escargantua" is slowly making its way to Paris, France after it fell into a French nuclear reactor, resulting in the heroes taking off to confront the new menace.

Voice cast


Reese Witherspoon at the British premiere of the film.[7]
Reese Witherspoon at the British premiere of the film.[7]




The film started as an adaptation of a horror comic book, Rex Havoc,[9] in which a monster hunter Rex and his team of experts called "Ass-Kickers of the Fantastic" fight against ghouls, ghosts and other creatures.[10] The earliest development goes back to 2002, when DreamWorks first filed for a Rex Havoc trademark.[11] 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.[9] In the following years, the film's story diverged away from the original Rex Havoc, with directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman finally creating the storyline from scratch.[12]

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.[13] Each of the five monsters has traits traceable to sci-fi/horror B movies from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, although none is a mere copy of an older character.[14] Susan, who grows to be 49 feet 11 inches tall into Ginormica, 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 the 1961 Kaiju 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."[14] For the San Francisco sequence, the producers researched many 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, and 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.[13]

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.[15]

Starting with Monsters vs. Aliens, all feature films released by DreamWorks Animation were produced in a stereoscopic 3D format, using Intel's InTru3D technology.[16] 2D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, and 4DX versions were released.



To promote the 3D technology that is used in Monsters vs. Aliens, DreamWorks ran a 3D trailer before halftime in the U.S. broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009. Due to the limitations of television technology at the time, ColorCode 3-D glasses were distributed at SoBe stands at major national grocers. The Monsters, except Ginormica and Insectosaurus, also appeared in a 3D SoBe commercial airing after the trailer. Bank of America gave away vouchers that covered the cost of an upgrade to a 3D theatrical viewing of the film for its customers.[17]

Home media

Monsters vs. Aliens was released to DVD and Blu-ray in the United States and Canada on September 29, 2009 and on October 26, 2009, in the United Kingdom. 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.[18] Also included are four pairs of 3D glasses.[18] On January 6, 2010, it was announced that a 3D version would be released on Blu-ray.[19] On February 24, a tentative March release date was set for the United Kingdom, where anyone who buys a Samsung 3D TV or 3D Blu-ray player will get a copy.[20] 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.[21] As of February 2011, 9.0 million home entertainment units were sold worldwide.[22] In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures and transferred to 20th Century Fox; the rights are now owned by Universal Pictures.[23]


Critical response

Based on 216 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Monsters vs. Aliens has an overall approval rating from critics of 73% and an average score of 6.47/10. The critical consensus reads: "Though it doesn't approach the depth of the best animated films, Monsters vs. Aliens has enough humor and special effects to entertain moviegoers of all ages."[24] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating from mainstream critics, the film has received a score of 56 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews".[25]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four, writing, "I suppose kids will like this movie", though he "didn't find [it] rich with humor".[26] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote that "WALL-E had more charm, more soul, more everything. But there's enough merry mischief here to satisfy, even if you're way past puberty."[27]

Box office

On its opening weekend, the film opened at nº. 1, grossing $59.3 million in 4,104 theaters.[28] Of that total, the film grossed an estimated $5.2 million in IMAX 3D theatres, becoming the fifth-highest-grossing IMAX 3D debut, behind Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Dark Knight, and Watchmen.[29] The film grossed $198.4 million 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 $381.5 million behind Up and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. It was the highest-grossing film worldwide in Witherspoon's career until Sing overtook it in 2017.[30]


In 2009, the film was nominated for four Annie Awards, including Voice Acting in a Feature Production for Hugh Laurie.[31] Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rogen were both nominated for best voice actor and actress at the 2010 Kids' Choice Awards for voicing Ginormica and B.O.B,[32] but lost to Jim Carrey for Disney's A Christmas Carol.[33] Monsters vs. Aliens was also nominated for Best Animated film but lost to Pixar's Up.[33] On June 24, 2009, the film won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film.[34]

Award Category Name Outcome
Annie Awards[35] 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[32] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Seth Rogen Nominated
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Favorite Animated Movie Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Saturn Awards[34] Saturn Award for Best Animated Film Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Visual Effects Society[36] 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

Expanded franchise

Main article: Monsters vs. Aliens (franchise)

Despite not being successful enough to be followed by a sequel, the film started a franchise with a video game, a short film titled B.O.B.'s Big Break and two television specials titled Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots, respectively. A television series based on the film also started airing on Nickelodeon on March 23, 2013, which was cancelled after one season due to low ratings, poor reviews and the network's desire to refocus on making the more "Nickish" shows.[37]



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