September 29, 2020

Movie Review: Coming out of the closet

posted on: Thursday November 8, 2001

Dave Quinn

Movie info:Monsters, Inc.Directed by Pete DocterProvidence Place At some point throughout our childhood we had that fear, as our parents tucked us into bed and said goodnight, that there were monsters hiding under our bed or in the closet. No matter what our folks did, they could never convince us otherwise, turning on lights and opening up doors in the process. Sure, we’d fall asleep and everything would be fine, but deep down, we knew something was up. Pixar’s newest animated sensation Monsters, Inc. is here to confirm our suspicions – things that go bump in the night really do exist. They spend their daily lives in a city called Monstropolis, a densely populated area facing an energy crisis. Collecting the energy for the city is the mega-corporation Monsters, Inc. In Monstropolis, energy is acquired from the screams of little children. Employees of Monsters, Inc. specialize in collecting those screams by traveling through gateways into the closets of little boys and girls and scaring the bejesus out of them. Problem is, children today aren’t scaring as easily, hence the energy crises. Here to help is the most successful scream team at Monsters, Inc.: Sulley Sullivan (voice of John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). Together, the team works extremely well – Sulley scaring and Mike filling out the paperwork. Trouble occurs, however, when long-time challenger and fellow scarer Randall Boggs (voiced by Steve Buscemi) seeks to break the boys’ record by working after-hours. Cheaters never prosper, and Randall soon learns that as his late-night scheme leads to a little girl named Boo (voice of Mary Gibbs) making a trip to the other side. Sulley stumbles upon the girl and suddenly is faced with a bigger problem. Human children are the scariest things for monsters, and now Sulley and Mike have to save the girl, save themselves, and eventually, save the company. Monsters, Inc. accomplishes what we’ve come to expect from the Disney-Pixar offspring of films. Like A Bug’s Life and the two Toy Story films, Inc. provides strong emotional relationships and themes. Sulley and Mike have a heartwarming friendship, cracking jokes, supporting, and motivating one another to be the best monsters they can be. The perfect odd couple, they are mature and sophisticated, while still being playful and silly. They are round characters with many depths and elements to their friendship. Not always best of friends, Sulley and Mike fight and argue like only best friends do. It doesn’t matter though, as their relationship is strong and can withstand some conflict. Conflict also occurs when an attachment between strong Sulley and petite Boo develops. Boo, a shamelessly cute little girl, touches the heart, bringing out Sulley’s soft side and smoothing some of Mike’s rough edges. In protecting Boo, Sulley and Mike struggle through ignorance. Monstropolis believes humans are dangerous. But Sulley and Mike know better. Convincing everyone else becomes the problem. The Pixar team truly provided director Pete Docter with a strong script. The vocal talents, however, really made the characters come to life. Crystal leads the pack with his hyper verbal comedy. He’s hysterical, as you can tell the film’s funniest one-liners are most likely improvised by him in the recording studio. Goodman brings a teddy bear charm to Sulley: his voice fully complementing his character. Steve Buscemi is fantastic as the evil Randall, bringing the sinister, slithering aspect to the monster. Jennifer Tilly is equally strong as Celia, Mike’s love interest who’s raspy, soft voice is a wonderful reflection of her characters charming, yet snappy character. The real scene-stealer here, though, is five-year-old Mary Gibbs, daughter of a Pixar story artist, whose gurgles, giggles, and goo goos give Boo plenty of personality. The animation is stronger than ever. Pixar pays attention to detail, visually keeping your interest in every scene. Most noteworthy is the animation of Scully. A large, purple polka-dotted blue monster, Scully is a furry monster. His animation is so particular, you can see every hair on his body reacting to the outside world. At one point, during a frantic sled ride in a blizzard, every inch of Scully’s body hair is being blown in a different direction. Once over, the snow remains on his hair – realistic and believable. Working on many levels, the movie is fast-moving and lively for children, yet visually impressive and surreptitiously written for adults. Unlike Shrek, Monsters, Inc. does not rely on pop-culture gags to keep the audience laughing. Here, short one-liners and visual puns work effectively for children, while deeper laughs come from the adults that get the “inside” jokes. Monsters, Inc. is one of those rare family films that draws audiences in from across the age spectrum. With the addition of songs by Randy Newman, Monsters, Inc. reaffirms the fact that an animated film can be every bit as stimulating and emotionally satisfying as a live action endeavor. The humor is snappy, the attention to detail outstanding, and the narrative innocent and pure. A true Oscar contender, it will be interesting to see if Monsters, Inc. gives Shrek a run for its money.GRADE: A

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