Release Date: December 19, 2012 (3D version)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Run Time: 92 minutes
Director: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Mary Gibbs
Every kid knows there are monsters lurking in their closet. What they don’t know is that it’s nothing personal; those monsters are just doing their jobs. Besides, kids aren’t in any danger from things that go bump in the night. As it turns out, parents who tell their kids “they’re more scared of you than you are of them” are right!
The lovable monsters of Monsters, Inc. are back—and this time, they’re in 3D. It’s good 3D, too, making Sully’s multicolored fur look soft as silk when it waves in the breeze and the long, institutional hallways of Monsters, Inc. seem even longer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: first, the story…
The city of Monstropolis is powered by children’s screams, gathered by teams of ‘scarers’ who sneak into kids’ rooms at night to frighten them so the screams can be collected (“We scare,” the company slogan reads, “because we care”). The best scarer of them all is James P. “Call me Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman), a big, furry creature who works with his short, green, eyeball of a friend named Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). Sully is a lumbering, loveable cahoot; Mike is his highly-strung, worrywart opposite. They’re regular Joes working at your basic factory job and they’re good at it… until Sully accidentally lets a mischievous two-year-old (Mary Gibbs) into the factory. In Monstropolis this is considered an environmental hazard of the highest order. Hilarity and hijinks ensue as Sully and Mike try to cover up the problem until they can safely return little “Boo” back to her bedroom (which, considering they think children are highly toxic, is trickier than one might think).
Since monsters Sully and Mike are more friend than foe, the villain of the piece is Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi), a chameleon-like creature with ambitions. Randall wants to dethrone Sully as the scare king, and that’s not all… but to say more would be a spoiler. Then there’s the big boss, Henry J. Waternoose, a spiderlike creature voiced by James Coburn. He’s having a hard time meeting scream quotas—today’s kids are getting harder and harder to scare—and the board is getting restless. How far will he go to turn a profit and save his company?
On one level, Monsters, Inc. is a story of how an unexpected relationship can change perceptions and even prejudice. On another, it’s a bit of a swipe at big business and the “success over people” mentality (even if those “people” are monsters). Like most Pixar films, it’s also a story of friendship under fire. But more than anything, Monsters, Inc. is the story of an ordinary guy who finds himself in an extraordinary situation and rises to the occasion. Oh, and it’s also a sweet, funny, charming, Oscar-nominated film the whole family can enjoy. So really, what’s not to love?
This being a Pixar product the animation is outstanding and, as mentioned earlier, even better in 3D. The roller-coaster-like chase scene through the archive of closet doors is particularly fabulous given the extra depth. The monsters come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, making the film a visual delight. Considering that Mike is basically an eyeball with arms and legs, he exhibits an impressive range of expressions. Having the likes of Crystal as his voice doesn’t hurt.
There are the usual puns and references to both pop culture and other Pixar films. Don’t miss the “outtakes” at the end—or, for that matter, the short called For the Birds shown before Monsters, Inc. begins. It’s an excellent opportunity for parents to point out the potential hazards of teasing, when a flock of snooty birds gets their well-deserved comeuppance.
- Drugs/Alcohol: None.
- Language/Profanity: Some insults thrown around, but no profanity.
- Sex/Nudity: Some romantic monster kissing, but that’s as far as it goes. A hairy monster is completely shaved as a safety precaution after exposure to a child.
- Violence: Cartoon violence; no one is actually hurt. (It clearly states in the credits that “No monsters were harmed in the making of this motion picture.”) Some monsters do appear fairly threatening—child characters in the film are frightened—and there’s a close up of a scary roar. One character believes another has been crushed in a trash compactor but the audience knows nothing untoward has occurred.
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