Monsters, Inc. (Pete Docter, 2001)


[Voices] John Goodman (Sulley), Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski), Mary Gibbs (Boo), Steve Buscemi (Randall). Screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson. Directed by Pete Docter. Rating: U. Running time: 87 minutes.

If I ever have kids, the only thing they’re definitely getting for Christmas each year is a Pixar movie, and, as Quentin Tarantino would say, I’ll show it to them and they had ‘better fucking like it.’ Monsters, Inc. isn’t as good as Toy Story, but it’s still unbelievably magical for kids and adults alike. This is a world in which monsters have remote access to children’s bedrooms through some kind of teleporting mechanism which uses their wardrobe doors. They enter each night with the sole aim of scaring, the screams which result being stored to generate power for the city of Monstropolis, which, at least at the start, is nowhere near as worrying as the similarly named Metropolis. In fact, quite amusingly, the monsters are actually as scared of the kids as the kids are of them. If the children do anything other than lie panic-stricken stiff in bed Nosferatu style, the monsters are the ones rapidly running away. Kids here are perceived like Commies were in 1950s America: the enemy, fear of which is driven by xenophobic paranoia.

So these aren’t like the kid-loving toys of Toy Story, even if the cinema-going children watching them are going to be just as enthralled as ever. The main action starts when an apparent mistake, which later turns out to actually be planned on morally disputable grounds by a rival but evil fellow scarer, Randall (voiced aptly by Steve Buscemi), leads to a child, Boo, slipping into the monster world, with her door flying off into warehouse storage. With only the petrified monster Sully to care for her, the adventure begins as he spends the film trying to get her home, whilst dodging the McCarthy-style witchhunt for the allegedly life-threatening little girl. Luckily for the film’s sense of fun, she giggles throughout and finds it hysterical. Just by shouting ‘boo!’ in a monster restaurant, she causes absolute anarchy to break out.

From here on in, Monsters, Inc. turns into a classic kid morality tale and a first-class adventure, the best scene of which comes towards the end when Sully and his pal Mike enter that infinitely large world of stored doors to track down Boo’s bedroom. They even have time to learn an industry-saving lesson in the process of all this: making kids laugh actually generates even more power than making them scream. What a perfectly apt lesson from the makers of the most joyful of childhood movies.

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