Monsters, Inc. Movie Review
Magical indeed -- the way it works is that all those monsters that hide in the closet and scare little kids only do so because they have to -- they use the screams as energy to power Monstropolis, which exists just on the other side of every kid's bedroom closet door in the world.
And wouldn't you know it if Monstropolis wasn't having a power shortage because kids these days just don't scare as easily. Even the top scarers in town -- the kind-hearted Sully (John Goodman), a blue yeti, and the genuinely wicked Randall (Steve Buscemi), a giant chameleon -- find their battle for "the record" a tough one. Compounding the problem is a young girl known only as Boo, who has made it through the closet door and into Monstropolis, where the touch of a child can be deadly. And wouldn't you know it, Sully and his faithful companion Mike (Billy Crystal), an anthropomorphic one-eyed egg, uncover a massive conspiracy, landing them in hot water, all while trying to get Boo back home.
Okay, what genius kid is going to be able to follow all of that? To be sure, Monsters, Inc. plays far better to the adults in the audience than the kids -- if the rugrats running up and down the aisles during the best parts of my screening are any indication. But even if they're not enthralled they ought to at least be entertained by Crystal's hamminess and a plethora of goopy, goofy monsters slithering about the screen, all with great big smiles on their faces.
But it's the sophistication of Monsters, Inc., like Toy Story and its sequel, that makes the film a standout over most animated fare. Sure, the secret lives of toys and bugs have already been explored to death, but Pixar keeps coming up with ways to keep the plot fresh. The city's power problems result in familiar "rolling blackouts." The power company puts out public service announcements ("We scare because we care."). Everywhere in Monstropolis we see a mirror of our own world. Which is just the way it ought to be.
The computer animation in Monsters, Inc. is incredibly capable -- more than twice as complex as in Toy Story 2. The hairs on Sully's arms move back and forth in the breeze -- an effect that would be even more effective if he was based on something real instead of a fantastic creature. It's a minor thing -- and the rest of Monsters' tiny flaws (namely very few characters which have received the attention to detail as Sully -- many are just shapeless blobs) are easily overlooked. Monsters, Inc. is popcorn-tastic fun for kids and adults... now if only we can rip people away from that darn Corky Romano.
In typical Pixar fashion, a second DVD is stuffed full of extras, including the ever-popular "outtakes" -- scenes from Mike's play "Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me" (mentioned near the climax of the film as Mike tries to cover for Boo) are a highlight. Unfortunately, much of the behind the scenes stuff at Pixar isn't terribly compelling; we've seen this all before in the DVDs for Toy Story and A Bug's Life. The "wow this was really hard to do" monologues just aren't that compelling any more. But overall, a great DVD and a real must-own.
What's blue, hairy, and carries a lunch pail?