Monster: An Endearing, Old-Fashioned & Child-Friendly Comedy Film
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
After what feels like ages, Tamil cinema has finally come up with an actual child-friendly film. Directed by Nelson Venkatesan, Monster is a comedy film starring S.J Surya, Priya Bhavani Shankar, and Karunakaran in lead roles. Remember the incredibly warm yet fun films like Stuart Little, Home Alone and Monsters Inc? In the way it makes you feel and in its ideologies, Monster is similar to the aforementioned classics. It is gentle, inclusive and somehow finds a happy ending for most characters in the film. It bases its primal theme on the saying “In the end, good always triumphs over evil”, making it a fun and morally rewarding entertainer for the tiny tots who always pay attention.
Anjanam Azhagiya Pillai (S.J Surya) is a humble, caring and affectionate EB Officer who is also an ardent Vallalar follower. He lives a simple life and as preached by his guru, Vallalar, he never causes harm to any living thing no matter how small. One day, on the, advise of his colleagues, he purchases a 1 BHK in Velachery. At the same time, he meets his prospective bride Mekala (Priya Bhavani Shankar) and falls in love with her. As Mekala gives him her consent to be wedded, he is determined to make his 1 BHK, her dream home. But all hell breaks loose as a rat wrecks havoc in his home. With the rat comes a gang of diamond smugglers who’ve come to retrieve the diamonds they hid in Anjanam’s home. The chaos that is brought along when the rat, Anjanam and the diamond strugglers cross paths forms the crux of the film.
Monster is a subtle reminder that sometimes, a simple, old-fashioned story with a good screenplay is all that is required to sway the heart of the audiences. This film too is a comedy just like the other release of the week Mr.Local, but unlike the latter, it never offends anybody or degrades them in the name of comedy. This film too has a key romantic relationship and yet it is never regressive. For instance, between Mekala and Anjanam, Mekala is the one with the stronger personality and yet not once is Anjanam portrayed to be weak. Theirs is an example of a modern relationship. Their chemistry too is brought alive in a subtle manner.
One of the reasons why the film has you invested in its premise right from the beginning is because of the relatable manner in which Nelson has written and constructed the characters and screenplay. Anjanam’s character development, the problems he faces because of the rat and his middle-class lifestyle is executed in a slice of life manner. The sequences in which even the little sounds in his apartment keeps him awake, the way in which he cares for his apartment and even his simple act of eating biscuits is conceived quite realistically.
By just using the rat to accelerate the story, the screenplay succeeds in creating tension in two specific places. One is in the scene in which Anjanam fashions a rat-trap using a plastic bottle and the other is the scene involving the rat and the sofa. Both these scenes truly drive you to the edge of your seat.
Monster’s first half is close to perfect, but the second half tends to drag a bit. The predictability of the screenplay and the fact that it solely relies on the rat to create tension are the reason for the film’s dragging pace. Halfway into the film, you can’t help but wonder if the film would’ve done better without the diamond smuggling angle. By scraping that angle, the film would’ve been shorter and far crisper too. But nevertheless, these are minor flaws in an otherwise reasonably entertaining film.
As Anjanam Azhagiya Pillai, S.J Surya is terrific. His usual adult comedy antics are replaced with a caring and down to earth demeanor. Even though a few montages come across as over the top, his acting is so convincing that you connect to his character till the end. His performance strikes the perfect blend of charm and Jim Carrey brand of awkwardness. Playing his friend, Karunakaran delivers an entertaining performance. He has many comebacks that are funny and spontaneous. Especially in his scenes involving Anjanam and Mekala. As Mekala, Priya Bhavani Shankar plays her role with a lot of charm. Her subtle yet influencing performance blends perfectly with her character.
Justin Prabhakaran’s quirky music and Gokul Benoy’s fun cinematography are the film’s strongest suits. The music plays a huge role in bringing alive the sequences involving the rat. It gives you the feeling of watching an animated film. The cinematography especially the rat’s point of view shots are creatively crafted. Without revealing the rat very often, Gokul uses Go-Pro footage in an innovative manner to establish its presence. Obviously, the film has used VFX and even though it is not world-class it proves to be adequate to this premise.
On the whole, Monster is an entertainer for the whole family. If you love simple, old-fashioned, feel-good films, you are bound to enjoy this one.