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Did anybody think that there were monsters in their closet?
Did anybody hear each noise and think a beast must cause it?
The monsters, yes, are in there to collect kids’ every scream,
But it is just a job for them; they’re nicer than they seem.
In fact, they’re scared of children, who are toxic, so it’s said;
The screams are used for power, which throughout the town is spread.
The famous James P. Sullivan’s the best of all the scarers,
The kind of kindly ball of fur who gives the kids their terrors.
His partner Mike Wazowski, who has romance on the brain,
Desires to break a record ere one Randall can attain.
Day in, day out, this Monsters, Inc. is known for perseverance
In generating power with no child’s interference.
But then while Randall’s sneaking, Sully finds by accident
A terrifying child with mysterious intent.
He takes it to a restaurant, where she causes quite a scene,
And all the city panics, and the SWAT teams intervene.
But as he gets to know her, Sully starts to think the tot
May not be quite as deadly as their world has always thought.
When he and Mike try smuggling her to the factory,
They learn of Randall’s plot to kidnap kids and screams for free,
When Sully tries to stop him, they both end up in Nepal,
But both get back to save her with no need to even stall.
A journey through the door vault poses dangers and a thrill,
But they get rid of Randall and his envious ill will.
When Sully must return his little “Boo” back to her room,
He hugs her and vacates it for the last time, they assume.
Though Monsters, Inc.’s kaput, their little escapade revealed,
Compared to children’s screams, their laughter bears a greater yield.
So Sully helps to lead the way in sparking laugh’s debut,
And as the business flourishes, he reunites with Boo.

Fresh off the success of Toy Story 2, Pixar once again proved their animated prowess with Monsters, Inc., an utterly original take on monsters in closets. My VC has said that all the wacky diversity in the monster world seems almost drug-induced, and with Pixar’s penchant for nonstop sight gags and visual inventiveness, it deserves multiple re-watches.

Aside from the unique, detailed CGI animation, much of the film’s success comes from the buddy pairing of deep-and-friendly-voiced John Goodman as Sully and frenetic comedian extraordinaire Billy Crystal as Mike. Their funny banter and frequent disagreement make their friendship seem real and better realized than Sully’s relationship with Boo, which is certainly more touching. It would have been nice to have some character development for Boo, who has no backstory to speak of or a meaningful personality beyond generic cuteness, unlike Russell in Up. Steve Buscemi’s nasally voice is surprisingly villainous as Randall Boggs, and James Coburn and Jennifer Tilly round out the voice cast nicely. Of course, John Ratzenberger had to have his requisite cameo, and it’s certainly one of his funniest and most unexpected. Also, can you believe that Bob Peterson, who played icky, monotone Roz, was also the voice of Dug in Up?

While the animation was not yet at the level reached by Ratatouille or WALL-E, it’s still colorful and seamless. The door vault scene is especially exciting and impressive, a classic among animated action sequences. Thanks to the humor, my VC enjoys this Pete Docter-directed film more than his later work in Up. Whereas Up’s plot was almost schizophrenic with all the disparate elements crammed in, Monsters, Inc. possesses one core concept and milks the hilarity and ingenuity from it as only Pixar can.

Pixar’s films tend to have some kind of social commentary, some more obvious than others, and Monsters, Inc.’s is quite subtle, only being presented in a few scenes. The driver for Randall’s plot to extract screams forcefully is the fact that kids are harder to scare, indirectly explained by their watching scary or violent television. Similarly, the scene at the end with Mike’s comedy routine indicates that what makes kids laugh has changed over time as well. Whereas verbal humor, such as in Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show, used to keep kids (as well as adults) entertained, such shows don’t fly nowadays, having been replaced by frantic, sometimes gross comedy, such as Mike’s belch. This analysis is certainly not the film’s focus, existing mainly in some throwaway gags, but it’s something I’ve noticed after several viewings.

Overall, Monsters, Inc. may not be as emotionally engaging as their other work, but it’s another Pixar favorite that cemented their reputation as leaders in the animation industry, even if it lost the Best Animated Feature Academy Award to DreamWorks’ Shrek. (It did win Best Original Song for “If I Didn’t Have You.”) Hint: Now that I’ve covered their lesser masterpieces (A Bug’s Life, Cars, etc.), you may not see Pixar’s other films on my list for a while, but there are definitely more on the way.

Best line: (Abominable Snowman, offering yellow snow) “Snow cone?  [Mike icks in disgust]  “No, no, no, don’t worry. It’s lemon.”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 10
Watchability: 8
TOTAL: 47 out of 60

Next: #159 – Splash

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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