A monster city is kept alive by the screams of children, until one child escapes.
For this Pixar series I decided to watch the 2001 Monster’s Inc. A delightful little movie from the genius acid minds over at Disney Pixar Studios, who usually just put out gold, with the exception of a few misfires. This time our adventures surround the wonderful world of Monsters, where the screams of children power everything from house lamps to power plants, this world needs the helpless wails of scared kids. And the way to get these screams is by of course scarring them; by bringing in this worlds best and most terrifying monsters like the serpent Randall (Steve Buscemi, “Fargo”) or our titular character Sully (John Goodman, “Fallen”), the menacing blue and purple bear thing with his trusted coach and mentor, the one eyed green ball with legs Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal, “Howl’s Moving Castle”), and of course a slew of many more, who go into rooms of children, thanks to the inventive ‘door warehouse’ technology, where with the swipe of a keycard you get any child’s (from across the globe) bedroom door brought down for easy access to retrieve those precious screams. Mr. Waternoose (James Coburn, “The Great Escape”), the spider legged leader of Monster’s Incorporated has made it clear that children are very dangerous, even the smallest touch of one could kill a monster, so scaring kids is hard work, especially with the C.D.A (Child Detection Agency) constantly patrolling the factory for any sort of child breach. And of course a child, Boo (Mary Gibbs), does breach, thanks to our two main characters Mike and Sully, and they must keep do everything they can to keep her hidden and secret to return her to her door, but of course adventure and peril happen to get in the way of the mission.
It’s safe to say this is one of Pixar’s lightest outings, but also one of their most enjoyable as the world building is so much fun and the characters are a blast, the writing is of course perfect with quippy funny dialogue that is brought to life by the immensely talented voice cast, with some one-liners I often find myself saying in real life; “Put that thing back where it came from or so help me!” The story is simple, with a good universal message of acceptance, which seems a common theme from Pixar, but one that rings true and one that still hasn’t been learned by many. And with the glossy finish that most come to expect from these films, it’s easy to forget there’s a moral message behind the bubble gum.
The animation is obviously always a highlight for a Pixar film, and while this film has a couple dated details it’s still a beautiful film and at the height of the animation technology for 2001. The way Sully’s hairs are each individually animated, or how the background characters all have their own agenda but aren’t distracting from the ones in front, the world is fully realized and it’s a lot of fun. The way the monster world still has human element, like sewer drains of which a liquid monster slides into saying “not again” is often hilarious and clever. The sequence in the door warehouse is always a blast to watch, it’s literally a rollercoaster, and it’s one of the most exciting moments of the film.
This movie never tries to go above and beyond and the final product is rewarding and guaranteed to leave a smile on the viewers face. The team over at Pixar have always been great at creating new quirky characters with their stories, and Monster’s Inc. is really where we start to see that process, each monster is specifically created for different purposes, such as Roz (Bob Peterson, “Finding Nemo”), the grumpy old slug lady whom Mike Wazowski is always getting into trouble with, or the C.D.A covered in their chemical suits disguising what creatures they really are, every character is vibrant, fun and with reason, there’s even a sofa monster. And while the characters match the story, there is one glaring plot hole in this movie that keeps it from getting a perfect rating. During the door race sequence Sully quickly goes inside one of the doors before it falls and shatters on the factory floor, then the next scene Sully jumps out of a random door laying in a pile of others, and he runs off with Mike. But later, after they defeat Randall, they exile him into what seems to be deep Mississippi, and close the door, then throw it over the railings to watch it shatter to bits, and never is Randall seen again, but somehow Sully is able to avoid that, it’s glaring and it’s lazy to think no one would catch that. Other than that though it’s hard to find something to nitpick, it’s a truly wonderful film.
Overall Monster’s Inc. isn’t the best Pixar has to offer but it’s still definitely a good time, with funny characters and for the most part strong writing, at least in terms of the characters. The story is fun and full of beautiful colors, the animation is obviously great, the world Pixar has created is fully realized and every detail expertly crafted to match the distinct monster city. There’s lots of bombastic action with an overall good solid moral message, Monster’s Inc. is always a great time, no matter what age your are.
I give Monster’s Inc. 4.5 stars out of 5.
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