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Monsters, Inc.



Monsters, Inc.
Year: 2001
Directors: Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, David Silverman, Alan Barillaro

Monsters, Inc. was the fourth feature film of Pixar and the movie that I think that really kickstarted their never-ending train of quality films. It's not hard to see why it was so successful. There's nothing shabby about Monsters, Inc. The characters - Sulley, Mike, and a whole plethora of others - are fantastic, the voice acting is stellar - featuring the hilarious voices of Billy Crystal as Mike and John Goodman as Sulley - , and it's overall a blast to watch. This is one of those films where the time just flies by and you don't realize where it went.

The premise of Monsters, Inc. is the fears of every child - monsters in the closet, under the bed, and basically every place imaginable. Of course Pixar loves to have a quirky twist and what's more fun than to make the monsters the protagonists, the creatures that rely on kid's fears for their energy? It's a bizarre and complicated economic system that only Pixar would do.

Our main protagonist is Sulley, a big blue monsters who is not as tough as he acts. His sidekick - who's also not very tough but at least doesn't act it - is named Mike Wazowski, a small green guy with absolutely no knack for scaring kids. He sits on the sidelines as Sulley does most of the work (this is explored in greater detail in Monsters University, the prequel that's not as good as this movie). They live a basically normal life, until one day. That is the arrival of "Boo."

Now I usually don't really love children characters in movies. They can be annoying and stupid. Boo is great, though. She represents defying every stereotype, she represents difference, and she is a charmer. Even Sulley and Mike, who have been taught that humans are toxic their entire life, grow to love her. It's not hard to see why.

Boo essentially wreaks chaos for them for the rest of the film. Sulley and Mike are kept busy trying to protect her and hide her from the CDA (Child Detection Agency), who could potentially harm her. Things get more complicated when we figure out there is an evil master plan being conducted by the CEO of the company, Henrey J. Waternoose (III). He, along with his sidekick Randall, plot to change the scaring business by forcing screams out of kidnapped kids. Boo is intended to be their first victim.

Damn, this is kind of a dark movie, actually. There is basically an instrument of torture, very evil villains, and basically a struggle of morality about the whole thing. This is actually one of the most complex of Pixar's plots if you think about it. We have several juxtaposing themes and conflicts. The external ones, involving Waternoose and Randall, and the internal ones, involving Sulley and Mike questioning their own prejudices. It's a complicated film, but there's no doubt it's a masterpiece and deserved the Academy Award for Best Animated Picture (over Shrek, which actually won!).

There's not much else to say, really. Well, there is, but in this condensed form, the worst thing that you can say about Monsters, Inc. is that it doesn't necessarily have a single very strong suit. For instance, in Up we get the emotional impact, in Ratatouille and Toy Story we get the dialogue, in Wall-E and Inside Out we get the visuals, and so on. Monsters, Inc. does all these things - not the best for the studio - but so solidly that it's hard not to really love it.