a critiQal film review Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Plot: Monsters James P. Sullivan (Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Crystal) work at Monsters, Inc., where they sneak into kids' closet doors and scare them, providing the energy source for the town they live in, Monstropolis. Sulley and Mike are about to break a record for screams when the unthinkable happens: a child gets into Monstropolis.

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  • ...another must-own from Pixar!

The people at Pixar have a problem. Ever since the huge popularity of their first two feature-length films (Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999)), everyone keeps expecting them to outdo themselves with something even more brilliant.

After A Bug’s Life didn’t meet up to these incredibly high expectations, one could almost think that they had used up the majority of their creativity on the Toy Story (1995) films.

Monsters, Inc. goes a long way towards proving those doubters wrong.

The voice talents are incredible, yet again. Pixar seems to have a knack of matching the perfect voices to the characters. In Toy Story (1995), it was Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear) and Tom Hanks (Woody). In this one, it’s John Goodman (Sulley) and Billy Crystal (Mike). The voices make the characters become so real it’s amazing. Of course, the animation doesn’t hurt, either.

The plot is a nice twist from the norm. Rather than having monsters that humans are afraid of, this is about humans that monsters are afraid of. It’s a nice change, and let’s them go crazy with the characters, since they are mostly monsters. True, they do keep it tame, since it is rated G, but the monsters are incredibly varied, nonetheless. The plot, you can tell, was done way before production ever started on the movie, and it shows. The scenes are all built around the plot as they should be, and even without one scene, the full impact of the movie would not have shown through.

It’s great to make the movie lighthearted and full of laughter, yet let a little bit of heart show through. To make that little bit of heart come from a purple and blue behemoth with horns just makes the movie that much more interesting.

The animation is the realm in which Pixar far surpasses any and all others, including Disney. The scenes are so realistic, even when the monsters are in the forefront, which would be almost impossible for any other studio. With the outstanding advances Pixar made during the film in hair, cloth and snow animation, it’s so realistic sometimes it’s amazing. When you first meet Sulley, for example, he’s sleeping, and his breath is blowing the hair on his arms back and forth. It’s simply amazing to see. Yet, they don’t make a big deal out of it, and it just becomes background to the plot and the characters.

The DVD is so packed with extras, it’s astounding they could fit it all on only 2 DVDs. (Don’t believe it? Check out the DVD Features!) With everything from 2 hilarious short films (“Mike’s New Car” and “For the Birds“) to the now-standard (for a Pixar movie anyway) animated outtakes, you’ll have hours and hours of enjoyment just checking out all the special features! And, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Theatrical Trailer #2 – it’s great! It’s great to see the animation process as well, and they take you through it, step by step. Plus, if the sneak peek is any clue, their next movie, Finding Nemo (2003), looks to be another winner.

With the perfect cast of voice talents, the simply astounding animation, and a great plot, Monsters, Inc. is a sure-fire winner for the whole family. Add to all that the amazing array of special features on the 2-disc DVD, and this is one film everyone should own.

So go ahead, buy it, and take a peek into the world on the other side of the closet door with Monsters, Inc.

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