There’s a power shortage in Monstropolis. Their source of energy is the screaming of children. But these days, it’s hard to scare little children. Specially trained monsters at Monsters, Inc., CEO Henry J. Waternoose (James Coburn), use their specially designed portal-door technology to get into the closets of little children and come out at night to scare them while harnessing their screams into power cells. One of the best scarers of all time, Sulley (John Goodman), is on course to break the all-time scare record with his partner Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), when something terrible happens. A child (Mary Gibbs) comes out of the human world and into the monster realm. This is bad news because the single touch of a human is deadly to monsters, or so they think. Sulley and Mike now have to get this kid back to her home overcoming rival scarer, Randall (Steve Buscemi), who has a dark plan to execute on the poor kid.
Pixar does themes best and Monsters, Inc. (2001) is probably the best of the best. There are all kinds of metaphors here about governments, corporations, misunderstandings, and fear of the unknown. It’s not entirely allegorical, though a cynical fellow may think so, but there are lessons to apply to the real world. Like other Pixar creations, this is fun for the whole family. Again, not everything is an original creation—E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) comes to mind—but no one puts together a movie like Pixar does. Monsters, Inc. is so funny and moving at times. I stayed away from Monsters, Inc. because I thought it was hammy or childish. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Pixar movies are hard to praise in part because they are incredibly similar to one another in their praise-worthy elements. They get great actors, the animation is always distinctly Pixar, and the writing is sharp in plotting and dialogue. How is this possible? Each one is the work of many, many hands. Monsters, Inc. is co-directed by Pete Docter, David Silverman, and Lee Unkrich with story by Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, and Ralph Eggleston and the screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson. That’s not to mention the legions of CGI artists behind them. Most of those named people have very few credits to their name and yet, with the fourth feature Pixar movie, they may have made the best one. It boggles the mind when compared to live-action films that usually follow the rule that the more people involved in writing the script, the worse the finished product will become. However they do it, Pixar has some magic formula of cooperation and collaboration that deserves unwavering admiration.
First complaint: they didn’t play the introductory short animation before the movie. Shame Blu-Ray designers, shame. [Be wary of buying used Blu-Rays, by the way, mine froze up towards the middle of the movie requiring me to get a replacement.] Second complaint: I have no second complaint. Randy Newman on the keys.