Monsters, Inc. (VHS, 2002, Clam Shell)

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Monsters, Inc.: Pixar Out-Does Disney

Nov 12, 2001 (Updated Mar 4, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:story, characters, voices, animation, attention to detail

Cons:some kids may be a little frightened, many others will want the toy tie-ins

The Bottom Line: A great film that adults and children can enjoy together! Pixar is *the* animation leader with it's 4th straight hit!


After reading the title, some of you might be scratching your head. Many people make the mistake of equating Disney Animation with Pixar. They are actually two separate companies. Though Disney has distribution rights and will likely make a nice chunk of change on this film, their relationship with Pixar is not quite cozy. Rumors have it that rethemeing the Imagination Pavilion at EPCOT in a Monsters, Inc. theme was nixed because of the high licensing costs Pixar is now in a position to charge.

Witness the last animation outputs by Pixar vs. Disney Animation. Pixar has given us Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, and the original Toy Story. Disney Animation has given us Atlantis, The Emperor's New Groove, Dinosaur (which showed such promise visually, but fell flat with a storyline that made me feel like I'd seen the movie before), and a whole host of direct-to-video sequels of what are classic animated films. (Snow White 2, Little Mermaid 2, even a trailer for Peter Pan 2 as a preview to Monsters, Inc.) Unfortunately, Disney seems to have lost it's in-house creative and innovative edge and is instead "outsourcing" it to the wonderful animation company that is Pixar.

Monsters, Inc. is that good - that creative and that innovative.

This is essentially the story of two monsters, Sully and Mike. To power the city of Monstropolis, the monsters use the energy from children's screams after they come out of their closets and frighten them. Sully has an incredible record of achievement in this area.

This may sound frightening to some parents, but the movie really is not. Most of the "monsters" are actually sweethearts, especially Sully who's soft heart is exposed after a child manages to wander into the Monsters, Inc. complex, and eventually out into the city. (Anyone else notice that the Monsters, Inc. building looks eerily like the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World?) My three children - ages 11, 6 and 18 months were not scared in the least and came out of the theater smiling, eagerly looking forward to figuring out which Monsters, Inc. toys they could ask Santa to bring them for Christmas.

Sully is a lovable, huge, blue-furred monster. John Goodman gives voice to the character and has the inflection down perfect. Sully jumps between scary and cuddly with ease. Mike Wazowski is Sully's side-kick, as well as being the paperwork and man-behind-the-scenes in Sully's wonderful record of scaring kids. He is rather short next to Sully, and consists of one giant eyeball in a body that resembles a green peach. The diminutive stature is never a problem, as Mike stands up to Sully and voices his opinion - rather strongly - on a regular basis. There's a good little lesson in there.

The little girls who ventures into the world of the monsters is nicknamed "Boo" and we never learn her real name. Sully is nothing buy a giant "kitty" to her and he does not scare her in the least. She is cute beyond belief, without being too saccharin. Throughout the movie, she only utters a few words coherently, thereby adding to her cuteness, as well as making her body language all the more important. The animators who handles her character on CGI had a tough job, but did it extremely well.

I loved the scene with the Abominable Snowman. I thought it was a great tribute to the Snowman we know from the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Christmas story with Burl Ives. The story was entertaining for kids as well as parents. I have to admit that the scene where the evil Randall is getting beaten up made me laugh out loud in the theater. Violence should never be funny, but Pixar manages to make even that seem hysterical - similar to the Roadrunner & Wile E. Coyote cartoons we all grew up on. Be sure to watch for cameos from a few "old Pixar favorites".

As always, the Pixar CGI animation is so detailed it is a true joy to view. Watching the movement of the furry monsters, we can see the details of the hair in the fur rippling, or the scales on others moving as if we are watching Animal Planet rather than an animated movie. The attention to detail that Pixar gives it's animation is one of the things that makes its movies such a treasure to watch.

I would love to see Steve Jobs (Pixar's Chairman) and John Lasseter (Executive Vice-President, Creative) take over the helm of Disney. They seem to have the right mix of creativity to capture the imaginations of this next generation - a generation that "doesn't scare as easily" to take a quote from Monsters, Inc. - as well as good business management. I fear that a change in leadership will be the only thing to bring Disney's Animation division back to the quality that is exemplified in this movie.


Other "Family" movie & DVD reviews:

Aladdin ~ Cars ~ Corpse Bride ~ Finding Nemo ~ Ice Age ~ The Love Bug ~ Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams ~ The Three Musketeers ~ Toy Story ~ The Wild Thornberrys Movie ~ Yellow Submarine ~ Young Indiana Jones: Attack of the Hawkmen ~ Young Sherlock Holmes

Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White ~ Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2 ~ Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color ~ Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2 ~ Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume One ~ Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Pluto ~ Walt Disney Treasures: Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studios ~ Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies ~ Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland USA


© 2001 Patti Aliventi




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