Film: Monsters vs. Aliens Director: Conrad Vernon, Rob Letterman Link: IMDB Runtime: 94 mins Regular readers of my movie reviews should be well aware by now that I basically worship anything that is released by Pixar Animation Studios and place their work up high on a pedestal, but it recently dawned on me that this deep affection I have for Pixar could result in some people believing that I show favoritism and unfairly judge any animated movie that is not conceived by my beloved production company. I can honestly say that this has never been the case and I always call them exactly like I see them. It’s not that I dislike everything that is not made by Pixar, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that I can’t remember the last time I viewed an animated tale that wasn’t made by Pixar that left me speechless and in complete awe. Thanks to DreamWorks Animation’s “Monsters vs. Aliens,” that statement no longer holds true. Visually appealing and tremendously fun, “Monsters vs. Aliens” is an eye-popping and hilarious homage to the classic science fiction films of the 1950s that people of all ages should thoroughly enjoy. (The movie is showing in both 2-D and InTru3D formats, but if you get the opportunity, I highly recommend that you go to the one where you’ll be sporting those new and improved 3-D glasses.) Susan (voiced perfectly by Reese Witherspoon) can’t wait to exchange vows with her weatherman partner Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd, who nails voicing a character who’s about as arrogant and self-absorbed as Kanye West), but her perfect day comes to a halt when an uninvited guest from the sky becomes the ultimate wedding crasher. Shortly after being clobbered by a meteorite all covered in space goop, Susan spouts up to just a shade under 50 feet and obtains special powers that give her super-strength. And before Susan can even blink an eye, she is whisked away by the military and taken to a secret government facility where other monsters are kept hidden from the general public. It is there where she meets the half-ape, half-fish, Missing Link (Will Arnett), a Creature from the Black Lagoon look-alike that got his kicks terrorizing spring breakers at the beach; B.O.B. (Seth Rogen), a gelatinous, brainless and indestructible blob that’s about as sharp as a bag of wet hair; an insect-headed mad scientist named Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie of TV’s “House”); and Insectosaurus, a dumb but cute 350-foot caterpillar that has an appetite for buildings and is easily distracted by bright lights. But before the monsters can become fully acquainted with their new roommate, they are called upon by General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland) and the president of the United States (Stephen Colbert) to save the world from Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson of television’s “The Office”), a squid-like, four-eyed alien that is searching for the strange substance that transformed Susan into the giant that now goes by the handle Ginormica. Just like any great animated motion picture, “Monsters vs. Aliens” has a perfect mix of humor, lovable characters, suspense and fast-paced action. Directors Rob Letterman (“Shark Tale”) and Conrad Vernon (“Shrek 2”), who make full use of today’s 3-D technology, have created some of the more impressive animated action sequences in recent memory, including a thrilling battle royal at the Golden Gate Bridge and Ginormica strapping cars onto her feet and skating down the streets of San Francisco. (However, the climax that involves the monsters fending off hundreds of Gallaxhar clones does get a little redundant.) But what shocked me the most about “Monsters vs. Aliens” is that it is genuinely funny and I must confess that it’s been a long time since I laughed this hard and often during an animated movie. It’s just a shame the filmmakers felt the need to resort to a few too many pop culture references because “Monsters vs. Aliens” would have been just as comical (and less gimmicky) without them. And while there are surely a lot of people who helped make “Monsters vs. Aliens” so mesmerizing, a large amount of the credit should really go to the movie’s highly talented voice cast for bringing the characters to life and giving each monster a unique personality. With her charming and distinctive voice, Witherspoon is an ideal fit for animated films and Rogen, who channels a little bit of his “Pineapple Express” character here, makes the sweet and naive B.O.B. the most entertaining monster of the bunch. We are still early in 2009 yet, but I am pretty confident that you will not see a more remarkable animated movie this year, and keep in mind that this is coming from the guy who absolutely adores Pixar, which is scheduled to release “Up” in theaters on May 29. Now, I know I can’t predict the future, nor do I have a Magic 8 Ball at my disposal, but I just don’t see how “Up” will be able to outperform the sensational “Monsters vs. Aliens,” which is one monster mash that truly is a graveyard smash. Rating: 8/10