Monday, 27 March 2017

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Fig 1 - Monsters, Inc. Poster
Monsters, Inc. marks the fourth feature-length outing for Disney Pixar and the first not to be directed by John Lasseter. In his stead, Pete Docter takes the hot-seat and would go on to direct Pixar's Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015), being two of the more successful films in the company's short history. In the beginning we are launched into Monstropolis, a city inhabited entirely by monsters, following the bear-like Sully (John Goodman) and his best friend Mike (Billy Crystal) in their workplace at Monsters Incorporated. The city relies on the power of children's screams, which employees of the company obtain via door-shaped portals to the 'human world'. Mike is responsible for coaching Sully in his position as 'top-scarer', but when second-best Randall (Steve Buscemi) seemingly envies Sully, he organises a covert 'scaring session' after hours. Sully stumbles upon Randall's door and accidentally lets out Boo (Mary Gibbs), a young girl fascinated by the monster world, who causes mass hysteria when news breaks of a 'child contamination' in the city. Mike and Sully then bring it upon themselves to get Boo back to her door without letting on that they are responsible for this 'toxic outbreak', all the while discovering that humans might not be so different after all...

This film is certainly up there with the best that Pixar has to offer. I was only seven when Monsters, Inc. was released and, as with Toy Story (1995), I couldn't tell you how many times I've seen it since. I've always found it to be such an incredibly watchable movie, from the animation and voice acting to the music and the story. It was probably one of the greats of my childhood and, to me it really sets up a universe like no other Pixar film has done since. Through the lens of animation, we can seamlessly slip into this world where alternate dimensions are instantly accessible. A world tailor-made to fit the needs of monsters large and small, in which screams are converted into energy that runs just about everything. All of this information is woven perfectly into the first third of the film, which comfortably establishes the 'ground rules' for how these two universes coincide.

Fig 2 - Monsters, Inc. - Approaching the Scare Floor
The voice acting is pretty flawless across the board here, with Steve Buscemi as Randall really sticking out to me. Something about the slick, jagged-moving design of Randall, with his menacing grin and seething eyes really gels with Buscemi's voice in a sinister way. Additionally, John Goodman and Billy Crystal both work tremendously as their respective characters whose dialogue, for the most part, was recorded unconventionally within the same studio. This really gives the impression that there is chemistry between the characters on-screen and, as a result, was likely reason enough for Pixar to give Mike and Sully their own prequel.

The music of the film stands out a lot too. From the jazzy opening titles to the winding strings that accompany chases through the factory, Randy Newman gives Monsters, Inc. a musical identity all of it's own. Even the score that follows the 'scarers' into position as they prepare for a day's work really reflects the idea that it's a courageous and brave endeavor these monsters are putting themselves through. The film even won the Oscar for 'Best Original Song' with If I Didn't Have You, which features in the film's blooper reel.

All in all, what's not to like about this film? It's a timeless tale that throws a big emotional punch and proves that there is nothing to fear beyond the confines of ones closet.


Fig. 1 Monsters, Inc. Poster (2001) From: Monsters, Inc. - Directed by: Pete Docter

Fig. 2 Monsters, Inc. Screenshot (2001) From: Monsters, Inc. - Directed by: Pete Docter

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