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Little Reese acts big in 3-D kiddie film

Reese Witherspoon (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Reese Witherspoon (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Reese Witherspoon’s kids are at that age – the one where they discover a movie they like and proceed to watch it, she says, “over and over and over again.”

Her 9-year-old daughter, Ava, and 5-year-old son, Deacon, don’t get bored of their favorites and don’t find themselves satisfied with a third viewing. They just get excited to watch it again.

So it’s no surprise that the 33-year-old Oscar winner is particularly concerned with the quality of children’s entertainment, choosing to work back-to-back on major animated feature films.

“Obviously having two young children, it’s nice to be able to go to the movie theater and have a film there that’s OK for kids, but it also has some adult humor in it that kids won’t necessarily catch,” she says.

In “Monsters vs. Aliens,” the first DreamWorks picture to use 3-D animation, Witherspoon lends her voice to a would-be bride who is struck by an asteroid with radioactive material that turns her into a 49-foot, 11-inch woman renamed “Ginormica” by her new government captors.

Several years ago, Witherspoon met with DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and his staff pitched “Monsters vs. Aliens” with one roughly sketched image: that of a giant woman sitting on the roof of a gas station.

“I thought it was really cool because I had always liked those movies,” she recalls. “My dad and I always used to sit up late watching them.”

Witherspoon signed on to that movie and soon agreed to a second animated project, “The Bear and the Bow,” a Pixar film set for a 2011 release.

The actress says she was attracted not only to the content of the films, but to the endeavor itself.

“It’s a very different process,” Witherspoon recalls. “I got into a sound booth probably once every couple months for three or four hours.”

And though it takes less time, she adds, it requires much more imagination.

“There is nothing visually in front of you to inform the scene,” she said. “And you don’t have a full script in front of you, so you don’t even know what’s going to happen next. They kind of talk you through everything, and then you just go in there and play around with it.”

“Monsters vs. Aliens” pairs Witherspoon with some of Hollywood’s funniest actors. who play fellow monsters, their rival aliens or, in the case of Stephen Colbert, a vapid U.S. president. The creatures are voiced by Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Rainn Wilson and Will Arnett.

Witherspoon did have a couple of hours in the sound studio with Paul Rudd, who plays her narcissistic fiancé. The two will be reunited for her next project, a comedy directed by James. L. Brooks that adds Owen Wilson to the mix.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Witherspoon says. “I’m very, very lucky, and I get to work with some really great people.”

The birthday bunch

Host John McLaughlin is 82. Comedian Eric Idle is 66. Composer Vangelis is 66. Singer Bobby Kimball of Toto is 62. Actor Christopher Lambert is 52. Singer Perry Farrell of Porno for Pyros is 50. Comedian Amy Sedaris is 48. Model Elle Macpherson is 46. Singer-harmonica player John Popper of Blues Traveler is 42. Actress Lucy Lawless is 41. Singer Kelly Sweet is 21.


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