Australian Council on Children and the Media

Monsters vs Aliens

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Not recommended under 5, Parental guidance to 13 (Violence, Scary scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Monsters vs Aliens
  • a review of Monsters vs Aliens completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 March 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 5-13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes and themes
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Monsters vs Aliens
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild animated violence
Length 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In this animated adventure, bride-to-be Susan Murphy (voice of Reece Witherspoon), is struck by a falling meteorite containing “quantonium”; a substance that transforms her into a giant before she can be married to her fiancé Derek (voice of Paul Rudd).  Captured and locked away for being a monster, Susan befriends other monsters detained in a secret government compound. Among them are B.O.B. (voice of Seth Rogen), The Missing Link (voice of Will Arnett and Dr. Cockroach (voice of Hugh Laurie).
Elsewhere in the universe, Galaxar (Rainn Wilson), a tyrannical alien leader on the trail of quantonium, discovers a deposit on Earth and wants it for himself.  Conflict ensues between aliens and earthlings so the government decides to send the monsters in to destroy the aliens and save the planet once and for all.  Now Susan has to choose whether to lead the rag-tag group of misfits into glory or return to her former life when given the chance.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Destruction of earth; Separation from family; Aliens

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Susan is roped, felled and tranquilised by the military shortly after becoming a giant. She manages to throw the offending tranquiliser dart at a soldier, piercing his foot
  • Susan beats one of the monsters, Dr Cockroach PhD, with her spoon
  • B.O.B., another monster, is thrown by Susan
  • The President says, “Do something violent”, so the military proceed to fire upon the alien robot probe
  • The President fires his pistol at the probe
  • A dart is fired from off camera at a Presidential Aide hitting him in the neck
  • Dr Cockroach PhD performs experiments on Susan whereby he electrocutes her
  • B.O.B. is repeatedly stood on by the alien probe
  • The probe pursues Susan through the city by smashing its way through buildings scattering cars and debris as it goes. A fight between Susan and the probe ensues on the Golden Arch Bridge.  There is much physical contact between them both and people in cars (as well as the other monsters) get caught up in the battle. The bridge is eventually destroyed and the probe’s head is severed
  • Insectosaurus (a monster) and Susan are attacked by another alien probe.  The audience is led to believe that Insectosaurus dies as a result
  • Susan is caught and trapped in a glass unit in which she has the quantonium extracted from her, causing her to shrink back to her previous size
  • Galaxar grabs Susan by her neck and throws her onto the floor
  • The Airforce One aeroplane is shot down by Galaxar’s ship
  • A cloned version of Galaxar detains Susan and forces her to the incinerator at gun point
  • The group of monsters come to the notice of the clones and a battle begins with gunfire and physical fighting
  • A clone trying to surface through a manhole cover is hit back down with it and squashed
  • An alien probe tries to destroy Susan by stomping on her
  • Susan flicks her ex-fiancé, Derek, into the air in anger and annoyance. He is caught and swallowed by B.O.B. who spits him back out

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Frequent loud explosions and screaming that may be frightening to watch and hear
  • After a meteorite lands on top of her, Susan glows toxic green, transforms into a giant and crashes through a church roof
  • Susan’s skeleton is exposed during an electrocution experiment
  • Insectosaurus is very tall, frightening and unpredictable
  • Susan’s first experiences at the government facility are unnerving eg. the elevator ride, meeting the monsters, and seeing red lights in the dark that could be eyes
  • B.O.B., being in a gelatinous form, transfigures himself in a variety of ways including swallowing or popping his eye out on several occasions
  • The alien probes are large and threatening and the aliens themselves have large heads, four eyes and six tentacle-like legs
  • The probe releases menacing robotic limbs and proceeds to destroy everything it can walk through
  • B.O.B.threatens to throw an occupied car off the bridge into the water below. Some cars have fallen into the water already
  • B.O.B. swallows Susan’s mother and fiancé before spitting them back out.
  • Galaxar’s head appears as a hologram in the night skies on earth to convey his message of impending destruction
  • Susan breaks the window of Derek’s top storey television studio and reaches through it to grab him
  • Galaxar is seemingly crushed several times in a cloning machine before he is cloned into several hundred armed and marching versions of himself
  • A bust of Galaxar expands and opens to reveal the quantonium
  • Insectosaurus morphs into a giant butterfly that flies over the streets

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Several scenes involving natural disasters eg. explosion of planets/stars, asteroid attack
  • the concept of alien abductions and invasions
  • Susan’s friends sneak up on her while she is sleeping and scare her awake in the format of a horror movie
  • As Susan starts to increase in size, the onlookers panic and jump through windows or stampede out of the church to escape
  • Susan is removed from society and imprisoned by herself in a stark metallic windowless cell, not permitted to return home to her family and fiancé
  • Susan accidently swipes at a helicopter and knocks it to the ground
  • Derek breaks his ankle and we see his foot twisted with a crunching sound

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • “It’s a boy, look at its boobies”
  • The General holds up his hands whilst describing Susan, to represent her breast size

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • One of the government officials needs to scan several parts of his body, including his naked bottom, to gain access to the command centre
  • Susan and Derek kiss. On one occasion the giant version of Susan almost sucks Derek into her mouth
  • One of the aides in the command centre has his underpants pulled up out of his trousers and is given a “wedgie”

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Dr Cockroach PhD makes a cocktail drink that explodes

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Holy Jesus!”
  •  “Boys, set the level at Code Brown because I need to change my pants”

In a nutshell

Monsters vs. Aliens is an animated action/science-fiction movie which is not suitable for very young children.
The main messages from this movie are

  • to believe in yourself and stand by your morals
  • that good will conquer evil.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage and persistence
  • friendship and acceptance of differences
  • a desire to do what’s right

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • natural disasters
  • violence and the use of weapons
  • self-centred or egotistical pursuits
  • dominance and bullying behaviour

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