Monsters v. Aliens

Yes, I still like cartoon movies on occasion. I never miss a Pixar flick and Dreamworks usually aren't bad. Eric got a surprise day off work due to some crazy flash floods in Houston, so I took a half day and we went to the movies. Monsters v. Aliens offers a female alt-hero that we got excited about, teaching kids (ok, and adults) about the importance of individual destiny.

The movie begins on Susan's wedding day, as she converses with her groom before the ceremony about his news career. She seems happy to be subsumed into his job and pretends not to care he's canceled their honeymoon for a job interview. Enter giant meteor that turns her into a giant monster and lands her in a maximum security government Area 51. When an alien robot threatens San Francisco, the feds agree to let the monsters out, and they save the city. Susan gets to see Derek, her fiance, who tells her he can't live in her shadow and finds her new success and fame quite annoying. After everyone falls in love with her, mostly because she saves the earth, Derek tries to win her back, hoping an interview with her will land him a job in NY. She tells him to take a hike, revels in her new found gifts, and embraces her destiny with new friends.

I'm glad to see these heroines have grown a little depth. I remember some pseudo-feminist characters in Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast or Little Mermaid, but when you get right down to it they are all just doing whatever they can to get a man (or doing great things until they get a man). Even Mulan has to pretend to be a man to get anywhere in life, and the movie ends with her suitor staying for dinner (FYI the original Chinese story ends with her getting married and staying home). The underlying message is always no matter how extraordinary or independent you are, you need a man.

You all know I'm pro at-home moms, but I have an issue with the way most people talk about them. It's as if being a full-time mom is merely a support role to the husband. I believe moms who choose this life are fulfilling an individual calling and participating in the shared destiny of parenting. I guess that's really a separate rant, but suffice it to say little ones need some heroes that stick up for themselves and break societal norms when they are oppressive. The damsel in distress model doesn't help anyone, including and perhaps especially men. So, good for Reese Witherspoon for lending her vocal talents to Susan, the unlikely feminist super-monster.

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