A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Monsters vs. Aliens is a TV series inspired by the popular DreamWorks movie of the same name. Like the movie, there's a good deal of violence in this animated show -- including grenade explosions, death rays (though no casualties are shown), machine gun rounds, and some physical exchanges that are more comical than worrisome -- but it's overall lighter fare than what the movie offered. A main character uses manipulation and trickery to push his nefarious agenda while feigning cooperation with the rest of his team, and typically he gets away with it. Humans aren't shown in a favorable light, there's more bickering than cooperation among some teammates, and you'll hear some body noises like loud belching. On the upside, these are characters who thrive on what makes them different, and each one's unique qualities play a positive role in the group at some point.
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What's the story?
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS is the continuing story of an elite team of monsters training in a secret government facility called Area Fifty-Something. There's Ginormica (voiced by Riki Lindhome), a.k.a. Susan, a human with super-growing powers; Dr. Cockroach (Chris O'Dowd), the brilliant scientist; The Missing Link (Diedrich Bader), a cocky fish/ape hybrid; and B.O.B. (Eric Edelstein), the jovial mass of goo with a heart (figuratively speaking) of gold. Joining the monsters in their bunker is a team of aliens led by the cunning Coverton (Jeff Bennett), who has ulterior plans for world domination he's keeping hidden from the monsters and from the program's supervisor, General Monger (Kevin Michael Richardson). If only these bunkmates can learn to get along, they might stand a chance protecting Earth from possible invaders.
Is it any good?
DreamWorks and Nickelodeon team up on this spinoff of the 2009 movie that revives its core cast of popular characters (though all with different voice actors) and introduces some newbies who shake up the status quo. The interplay between Coverton and the well-meaning monsters takes a leading role in the stories' plot, which leads to a lot of bickering and some questionable examples of resolving conflict. Despite his habitually ill-meaning behavior that often places his monster counterparts in harm's way, all is forgiven by story's end, and any repercussions are lost to the show's humor.
Ultimately Monsters vs. Aliens suffers most at the hands of a cartoon series' timeframe, which allows a minimal window for developing plots worthy of these comical characters. It's entertaining, to be sure, and the animation lives up to the furthering standards of DreamWorks productions, but it falls a little short of what viewers might expect from the sequel to a popular movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of movie sequels and spinoffs. Do you think these characters warranted a second project? What role might the marketing of products (games, accessories, toys) play in planning a sequel?
Kids: Are any of the characters good role models? What about as a group? How is diversity reflected in this cast? Is it a positive or a negative attribute to the whole?
How does the level of violence in a show impact its message? What did you think of this show's violence? Was it ever scary? Funny? Would you have felt the same way if the characters were live-action people instead of cartoons?
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