Welcome back to my series of Pixar film reviews! Did you all have a chance to see Cars 3 over the weekend? If not, check out my spoiler-free review here. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Monsters, Inc., one of the studio’s earliest (and best) films. It tells the story of James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, two best friends who live in Monstropolis. Monstopolis’ energy is generated by the screams of children, caused by monsters known as “Scarers” and collected in tanks. All the monsters think children are toxic, but one night, Sulley accidentally lets out a 2-year old girl. He discovers that children are actually not toxic at all, and soon Sulley and Mike embark on an adventure to get “Boo” back home. However, another Scarer, Randall Boggs, has an evil plot to kidnap the girl and use her to get more screams for himself.
This was one of my favorite movies when I was younger, and even now, I still love it. It’s one that is just irresistible and never gets old, even by today’s standards of animation.
The story is still fantastic. I think that the idea is just so unique, and even though the 2013 prequel Monsters University isn’t as good, this is one of Pixar’s best expansive universes. While I do think this film gets a bit too wrapped up in showcasing many different monsters, they all look really cool.
The music by Randy Newman is, of course, spectacular. The main theme is one of my favorites in Pixar’s library, and Newman’s jazzy feel works in a film like this. The other, more emotional moments in Monsters, Inc. also get the Newman treatment here, and the toned-down music is perfect for them.
The writing is really strong, and the humorous bits work very well. And believe me, there’s a lot of ’em. I laughed multiple times, and considering this movie came out a decade and a half ago, that’s an impressive feat. However, this is also a film with a lot of emotional and tender moments. Moments that, yes, will probably make you cry. Monsters, Inc. doesn’t overdo it with the tearjerk-level, though. It’s smart with the way it handles these scenes, which is one of the best parts about it. In one heartbreaking scene, Sulley must say goodbye to Boo, but what makes it sadder is the fact that she doesn’t know it’s a goodbye. Yeah, I lost it.
The main antagonist, Randall, is a step up from Toy Story 2, but still isn’t amazing. Yet again, this villain suffers from a lack of development. He gets plenty to do, but unfortunately, his motives aren’t as deeply realized as other Pixar villains, and they just fall flat.
Monsters, Inc. is one of the best Pixar films. It has some great emotional moments, strong writing, and a very unique story. However, the villain isn’t great, and the film focuses a bit too much on showing a new monster’s looks or abilities. I’m going to give Monsters, Inc. an A-.
Monsters, Inc. stars John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger. Directed by Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich.