movie film review | chris tookey

Monsters, Inc.

  Monsters, Inc. Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
7.75 /10
Voices of: Billy Crystal , John Goodman, James Coburn
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Directed by: Peter Docter, David Silverman
Written by: Dan Gerson, Andrew Stanton

Released: 2001
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 90

Monsters find their lives in turmoil.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Do you remember lying in bed as a child, convinced there was a monster about to leap out at you from your wardrobe? The makers of Monsters, Inc do; and the beautifully simple behind the film is that if you were to talk to the monsters, you'd find they are just as scared of children, as children are of them.

For the scary inhabitants of Monstropolis rely on infants' screams to generate the power that runs their city. Leaping out to frighten tiny children is their equivalent to drilling for oil. The proud slogan of Monsters Inc, the corporation which generates those screams, is "We scare because we care".

As everyone knows, children nowadays are getting harder and harder to terrify, so there's an energy crisis in Monstropolis. The pressure is on top scream producer Sully (voiced by John Goodman), who looks like a cross between a bear and a buffalo in blue, green and purple fun fur, and his back-up assistant Mike (Billy Crystal), who's basically a walking eyeball with a fast-talking mouth, to avert a full-scale energy crisis.

Sully's big rival when it comes to traumatising tinies is the sinuous and slimy Randall (Steve Buscemi), who's prepared to cheat in order to impress their crab-like boss (James Coburn). Mike, meanwhile, has a crush on the sexy receptionist (Jennifer Tilly), who's perfectly normal apart from having one big eye, and rattlesnakes instead of hair.

The smooth running of Monstropolis ends when an intrepid small girl (Mary Gibbs) follows Sully through her wardrobe door and into the world of monsters, where children and everything associated with them are thought to be toxic.

As always with movies from the Pixar Studio (this is their fourth full-length movie, following the Toy Story movies and A Bug's Life), the visuals are imaginative, in this case owing a lot to Maurice Sendak's picture-book Where The Wild Things Are. Also, the voices are superbly matched to the characters. It falls down a little on wit, however, being much too dependent on slapstick.

The plotting is a shade over-casual, too, with a few longueurs, several loose ends (why do the monsters think children are toxic?) and plenty of moments when it's hard to work out exactly what the villains are up to, or why.

The film touches its audience most when the little girl is conquering her fear of monsters, but the half-hearted attempt to satirise corporate America seems misguided in a movie that's aimed primarily at children.

The film is funniest when it explores the idea of a city populated entirely by scary monsters. They shop for food, naturally enough, at the grossers; and newspapers such as the Daily Glob carry stories like the one headlined "Baby Born With 5 Heads - Parents Thrilled".

Is the movie as funny as Shrek or A Bug's Life? I don't think so. Is it as emotionally satisfying as Toy Story 1 and 2? Certainly not. Does it create an alternative universe as mythic or as magical as Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings? Not by a long way.

In view of Pixar's previous achievements, I was disappointed. But many adults will be grateful for what Monsters, Inc does deliver - decent family entertainment with a good many laughs and an enormous amount of energy. In years to come, this won't be regarded as a classic; but it's good, silly fun, that will be enjoyed by even the smallest children.

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