Monday, October 8, 2012

#784. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Directed By: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich

Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Mary Gibbs

Tag line: "Monsters, Inc. : We Scare Because We Care"

Trivia: There are retro Disneyland posters in the Monstropolis travel store and some of the children's bedrooms

2001’s Monsters, Inc. stands as yet another example of superior animation and inspired storytelling from the folks at Pixar Studios.

The premise is ingenious: Monsters living in a vast civilization of their own, a place called Monstropolis, need a whole lot of power to maintain their complex society. Enter Monsters, Inc., a corporation that’s sole purpose is to keep Monstropolis running. And what is this the source of all this power? The screams of human children! Each kid’s scream results in more energy for the city, and professional monsters like James Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman), known as “Sulley” to his colleagues, do their part to get the tykes jumping. But when the unthinkable happens, and a human child accidentally makes her way into the city, Sulley and his best friend, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) must get her back home before her presence sends all of Monstropolis into a panic.

There are plenty of laughs in Monsters, Inc., most of which are generated by Crystal as the incredibly nervous Mike Wazowski, the monster technician with one eye. The villain of the piece is a chameleon-like creature named Randall, who’s competing with Sulley for the honor of being the company’s leading scream-generator. Voiced by Steve Buscemi, Randall makes for a shady adversary, one who continuously plots and schemes to knock Sulley out of the top spot. There are a number of fun scenes as well, like when Mike and Sulley meet the Abominable Snowman (John Ratzenberger), who invites them to stay a while by offering them a snow cone, and a chase that occurs towards the end of the film, where our two heroes are swinging along an aerial conveyor belt carrying hundreds of bedroom doors (through which the monsters enter the human world), is chock full of excitement.

Monsters, Inc. has all of the elements of a great Pixar offering: humor, warmth, and a slew of multidimensional characters. It’s also one of the few “family” films I’ve seen that can actually entertain every member of the family.

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