The Monitors (1969)

Article 3695 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-11-2011
Posting Date: 9-26-2011
Directed by Jack Shea
Featuring Guy Stockwell, Susan Oliver, Larry Storch
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction satire

Aliens come to Earth and take over as a worldwide police force, keeping the people in line using love, peace, courtesy and catchy jingles. A pilot gets caught up in a struggle between the aliens and a military resistance group bent on destroying the aliens.

Somehow, the idea of an unfailingly polite police force that eschews any form of violence serving as a central concept of a satirical science fiction movie sounds really interesting to me, and there are moments where this movie hints at what could be done with the idea, especially when it gives us the feeling that this could result in a 1984-style type of dystopia. How I’d like to see a movie that took this idea and cleverly developed it. Instead, I’m stuck with this one, which doesn’t know what comic tone to try for; it’s too stuck in sixties cinematic tricks to cohere at all. It overuses two of the gimmicks (an irritatingly catchy little ditty about the Monitors and a series of public service ads in which people describe how the Monitors have made everything wonderful), and it gets mired in bizarre slapstick-style comedy, especially in the scenes with Larry Storch. The movie does eventually get itself back in focus for the ending, but this ended up being the most disappointing part of all, as its messages are trite and predictable. It’s a movie that raised my hopes in the beginning and dashed them by the end of the movie. There’s a better movie to be made with the idea, and maybe someday that will happen.

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