Pixar's latest 3D upgrade is (surprise, surprise) a technical marvel, but is it worth investing another $50 for...?
Buena Vista / 2001 / 91 Minutes / Rated G / Street Date: February 19, 2013
Master scream-maker James "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) and his wisecracking best friend Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are the top dogs at Monsters, Inc., Monstropolis's sole source of "scream power." With clockwork-like precision, monsters work around the clock on the "scare floor," popping into children's bedrooms the world over and "capturing" their screams. Voila! Instant energy! It's all innocuous, of course (no actual children were harmed during the making of this movie), but what would happen if a child were to sneak into this monster world? Thanks to a nefarious scheme by Sulley's archenemy Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi), Sulley and Mike are about to find out, and Monstropolis will never be the same...
Even Disney has had their share of hits and misses, but with Monsters, Inc., Pixar proves their prowess. Utterly cute, charming and clever, modern animation doesn't get any better than this. Some found the story a bit too kiddie-friendly compared to the more adult humor on display in the Toy Story films, but it worked for me just fine. Both Sulley and Mike are immediately lovable, and just as funny are Mike's long-suffering girlfriend Celia (a perfectly cast Jennifer Tilly) and the Nurse Ratchet-esque "dispatch manager" Roz (voiced adroitly by Pixar's own Bob Petersen). Admittedly I have to agree with some of the criticisms leveled at the only human character, little Boo (well voiced by Mary Gibbs), who ends up being the film's weakest link. She does nothing but react and play the precocious kid role, but there are so many other colorful, inspired creations stuffed into every frame of Monsters, Inc., that it's hard to care.
Perhaps that is where the real power of Pixar ultimately comes from. Never content with just a great story and inspired characters (as if that wouldn't be enough), their talented team of filmmakers and voice talent seem to always find effortless ways to lift every scene to the next level. Whether it's a clever sight gag or seemingly throwaway visual details, it is more than just great writing, animation, direction and visual spectacle.
Whatever it is that Pixar seems to have caught in a bottle, the only word to describe it is "magic."