It scares little kids and little monsters
Monsters, Inc. is Pixar's 4th animated feature film and the first to not be directed by John Lasseter. It was directed by Pete Docter and features voice work from John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, and James Coburn.
The film takes place in the monster city of Monstropolis, which gets its power from the screams of human children. The central source of scream power is the famous Monsters, Inc. factory, where monsters are employed as scarers and enter into the human world to scare children by going through doors that take them into various children's bedrooms. While it seems obvious that young children would be afraid of giant furry monsters, it actually works the other way around too. The monsters themselves are frightened of the little children, believing the children to be toxic and capable of killing monsters. Monstropolis is going through an energy crisis because the children are becoming harder and harder to scare, and Monsters, Inc. CEO Henry J. Waternoose (James Coburn) wants to find a solution. Monsters, Inc.'s top scarer is James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) who works alongside his best friend, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). The two are rivaled against the sneaky chameleon-esque monster Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi), who is right on Sulley's tail for the company's all-time scare record. One day, Sulley discovers a door left activated by Randall and finds a small girl who has entered the monster world. Sulley desperately tries to put the girl back within her door, but fails. The monster world is soon sent into mass hysteria when the girl appears in public. Mike and Sulley, the latter naming the girl Boo, must now work to keep the girl hidden from the authorities and send her back home.
I have seen plenty of animated films thus far in my lifetime, and I can easily compile a list of those that I would consider my favorites. A Bug's Life, Inside Out, and Monsters, Inc. are easily my three favorite animated films from Pixar, and between those three, Monsters, Inc. might just be the one that I adore the most. Inside Out does not contain any childhood nostalgia for me, and as many times as I re-watched A Bug's Life, it doesn't have quite the heartwarming charm that Monsters, Inc. has. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Monsters, Inc. back as a young-in, and re-watching it several years later still gave me humorous and heartfelt feels. The magic of Disney and Pixar are how masterfully they can convey a story to audiences of all ages and evoke emotional responses from kids and adults alike. Kids will giggle and smile at all of the furry and goofy monsters running around like scaredy cats, while adults might notice that there is an underlying social commentary on how two different groups of living beings (humans and monsters) interact when neither sees eye to eye. The monsters fear that children are toxic, with one touch basically meaning death. To feel secure, the monsters oppress human children by relying on their screams as a power source and as a means to promote their own cause.
- Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski. Wazowski is easily the film's funniest character, and the best part is how the script avoids turning him into a total clown with no dimension other than how many times can he make you laugh until he becomes annoying. Crystal's suave voice is successfully able to make certain lines sound funny, even when the lines themselves don't seem particularly funny. Mike addresses one of his co-workers, Roz, one day and tells her, "Roz, my tender, oozing blossom, you're looking fabulous today." Just reading that line as is might emit a chuckle, but hearing someone like Billy Crystal say it is really funny because Billy Crystal has the vocal talent to make the line funny. The script does not have Mike Wazowski rely on one liners and bad puns to make humor, but instead on goofball sarcasm, especially during serious situations that the monsters find themselves in. At the same time, Wazowski remains serious-minded and on-point enough so as to never seem over-the-top or no holds barred.
- The fast pace. Monsters, Inc. is high energy fun, always moving along and never missing a beat. A 90-some minute film might usually have a bare bones plot, but Monsters, Inc. is able to effectively communicate its layered plot without rushing anything or sounding overly confusing.
- The sweet charm spawning from the father-daughter relationship between Boo and Sulley. Boo calls Sulley "Kitty" (he's covered in fur, so he's like a cat, you see) and constantly outmaneuvers him whenever Sulley tries to catch her. Sulley is terrified of Boo at first, but once he realizes that she's not toxic, he warms up to her and does whatever he can to make her feel comfortable in a world packed with freaky monsters. Sulley lets Boo sleep in his bed and plays hide and seek with her in the male monster restroom (which does create some clever adult humor). You'd have to have a heart made of granite to not be charmed by Sulley and Boo's relationship.
- Monsters, Inc. has no major low points to speak of. I'm extra hesitant to downplay anything within the film because I am biased towards it being one of my all-time favorite animated films. There's just too much fun, humor, and heart that I do not have it in me to complain about anything.
Even if Monsters, Inc. is not regarded as Pixar's most important film (that title belongs to Toy Story), it certainly is one of their best. An interesting story, a consistent dosage of humor, and plenty of heartfelt charm all add up to make Monsters, Inc. one of the finest animated family films that kids and adults can equally enjoy. I am not sure about Pixar expanding upon the monster world of Monsters, Inc. outside of the Monsters University prequel. Maybe a small part of me doesn't want there to be any sequels or spin-offs, so as to not tarnish this film's legacy. Hey, it's Pixar. They continue to find new ways to amaze us.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: