- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © Walt Disney
Reviewed by David Medsker
y God, they've done it yet again. Pixar is the best studio in Hollywood. They've made four movies, and they're all great. The newest one, "Monsters, Inc.," is a touch below the classic "Toy Story" movies, but it's nonetheless wildly inventive, visually stunning and incredibly funny, as well as deeply touching.
The story takes place in the bizarro Gotham of Monstropolis. Monsters Inc. is the local power company, which uses the screams of human children as fuel. The problem is, kids aren't as easy to scare these days, so the company is dangerously low on power. Their #1 producer is a good hearted, hard working, blue haired beast named James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman), assisted by one-eyed Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). But hot on their heels is a nasty chameleon named Randall (Steve Buscemi), who's just a little too into his work.
The trouble starts when Sulley accidentally brings a little girl (which he names Boo) back into the monster world with him. See, children are toxic, and any monster that touches one suffers a most rigorous decontamination process. Sulley just wants to get Boo back home without causing any more trouble, but that turns out to be much easier said than done.
I loved the whole setup of the parallel universe link into our world. It was like an assembly line. A door is lowered into a frame, the monster goes in, scares the kid, the fuel is stored, the door is removed, a new one is put in its place, repeat. It was also a nice touch to have the monsters actually be very pleasant beings, save for perhaps Randall. Crystal, thankfully, was in second- to third-gear with his schtick, and that made a world of difference. Goodman usually makes everyone around him better, and this is no exception. But what made this movie so enjoyable for me, though it bordered on mushiness, was the little girl Boo. If I thought for a second that my kids would be like her (instead of the more likely outcome, Sid from "Toy Story"), I'd have 10 of them.
The movie is not without its flaws, however. There was a point made early on about the true power within children that they stepped around to the point of awkwardness. There was also a flaw in logic regarding destroying a link between Monstropolis and our world, but it was not so glaring that it distracted from the movie. And besides, the roller coaster type sequence that this scene took place in more than made up for the oversight.
You have to hand it to Pixar. No studio has their track record of 4-4 with four home runs. They may have hit this one to the shortest part of the park, but it's a homer just the same. "Monsters Inc." was everything I wish "Shrek" had been. It's subtle, it's clever and best of all, it's not patronizingly simpleminded. Hooray for making a movie that doesn't lean on the lowest common denominator.
Four-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The original two-disc Collector’s Edition DVD of “Monsters, Inc.” was loaded with hours of bonus material, so Disney really didn’t have to add too much to the new Blu-ray edition. Everything from the previous release has been carried over, including both short films (“For the Birds” and “Mike’s New Car”), an audio commentary by Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter, and production featurettes on everything from story and animation to music and sound. There are even a few deleted scenes included under “Banished Concepts,” the original treatment for the movie (which is vastly different from the finished product), and much, much more. Exclusive to the new Blu-ray release is a cool inside look at the Monsters, Inc.: Ride and Seek attraction at Tokyo Disneyland and a new interactive game called “Roz’s 100 Door Challenge,” as well as a roundtable discussion with Docter, Unkrich, Bob Peterson and Darla Peterson about the origins of the film, the various stages of production, and even a change that was made to the sushi restaurant scene following the events of 9/11.