Director: Peter Docter
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson
You know how, as a kid, you thought that monsters would come out from the closet at night? Well, you were right! Every day, at the Monsters, Inc. factory down in Monstropolis, monsters go through inter-dimensional portals which open into the bedrooms of children all around the world. They proceed to frighten said kids in order to make them scream. For you see, in the monster’s world, children’s screams are the main source of energy, powering cars, lighting houses, everything. The top scarer at Monsters, Inc. is James P. Sullivan (John Goodman), an 8 foot tall, blue-with-pink-polka-dots haired monster who’s coached by his best friend Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), a one-eyed green thingie. Their success at the company is threatened when they somehow let a 3 year old girl into Monstropolis, which is a very bad thing because human children are, of course, the most toxic and dangerous thing there is. Or so they think.
“Monsters, Inc.” is the latest from Pixar, the computer animation geniuses behind the “Toy Story” movies. Once again, their technical wizardry gets further more impressive. It seems that with every movie, they become more skilled at making everything look stunning, creating rich and large universes filled with imaginative, offbeat details. Yet while there is an endless collection of creatures of all shapes and sizes in the movie, the most amazing creation might just be Boo, the little girl. Now, she’s not a technically perfect replica of a human, as it wouldn’t fit the overall somehow cartoony feel of the picture, but her expressions and behaviour and all the thoughtful little touches brought by the Pixar guys are incredibly life-like. You forget that she’s just a bunch of pixels and you actually start to care for her, as if she was real.
This also goes for Mike and Sully, who might look freaky but soon reveal themselves to be some jolly good guys. John Goodman gives Sully his big-bear-who’s-really-a-softie attitude and he becomes a completely endearing character. Just visually, he’s a treat, with the alleged 3 million animated hairs of his fur which makes you wanna grab him and pet him, but even better is how he’s given a personality and feelings. It’s particularly touching to watch him opening up and becoming affectionate and protective towards Boo. Mike is mostly there for comic relief, with Billy Crystal doing his shtick, but he’s likable too and the friendly back-and-forth between Sully and him is nice. The film also features the voice talents of Steve Buscemi as a chameleon-like vilain, James Coburn as the grumpy boss of the factory and Jennifer Tilly as Mike’s snake-haired girlfriend.
“Monsters, Inc.” is obviously targeted at kids, so there isn’t much depth to its story, which is little more than a continuous succession of chases filled with eye candy and slapstick, but it’s crafted with enough heart, skill and energy to entertain audiences of all ages. Personally, I preferred the rowdier, funnier “Shrek” or even more so, Richard Linklater’s mind-blowing cartoon for adults “Waking Life”, but if “Monsters, Inc.” wins the first Best Animated Film Oscar next March (and it probably will), I won’t be displeased. There’s nothing wrong with just being a lot of fun.