Monsters, Inc. (Pete Docter, 2001)
[originally posted 14Nov2001]
Docter gets his feature-length directorial debut after working behind the scenes on Pixar’s Toy Story films. They took a chance having someone other than John Lasseter helm this one—and it paid off big time.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, a quick plot summary: friends and roommates James P. Sullivan (John Goodman—the big blue hairy guy) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal—the eye) work at Monsters, Inc., the company that provides the monsters that inhabit the closets of human children. They do this because the sonic vibrations of childrens’ screams are the source of their world’s power. Nifty, huh? They’ve also been brought up to believe that being touched by a human is instant death. Through various machinations, a human child ends up coming through a closet door and landing in Monstropolis, the town where the monsters live, and the news of this has roughly the same effect as a nuclear bomb threat in the middle of a major metropolitan area. Guess who gets stuck with the kid and has to find a way to get her back to the human world?
Pixar have always been good at balancing the edge between kid-friendly and adult-oriented, and never more so than in this movie. There’s enough physical comedy to keep the kiddies happy, while the movie’s main plot and emotional subtexts go way over their heads and keep the adults interested. Top-notch casting (James Coburn, Steve Buscemi, and a host of other top-of-the-B-listers join Crystal and Goodman), Pixar’s trademark cutting-edge animation, and one of the best scripts in years make this not only another bullet in Pixar’s belt, but the best one yet. **** ½