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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Why do they always attack the USA?

PARIS -- Actor Stephane Freiss, who voices Hugh Laurie's mad scientist character in the French dub of "Monsters vs. Aliens," took advantage of the film's Paris press conference to ask producers Jeffrey Katzenberg: "Why DO aliens in movies always attack the U.S.?"

The DreamWorks Animation honcho laughed and retorted, "We have it coming!"

Kiefer Sutherland, who voices the film's military commander, countered that such invasions owe much to geography: "We wrote it. Godzilla attacks Japan because Japanese people wrote those movies."

And what is the state-of-the-art 3-D feature cartoon--five years in the making--REALLY about? Reese Witherspoon, who voices the giant woman who "not only finds herself but coincidentally saves the planet," asked her children.

Her 9-year-old daughter opined: "I think it means don't ever let someone underestimate you."

Her 5-year-old son had an alternate view: "I think it's when octopus aliens invade your planet, you have to kill them."

Lisa Nesselson, Senior Paris Correspondent

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