Monsters, Inc. (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/08/2002

Four out of five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Delightful animated comedy from ‘Toy Story people’ Pixar – a smart script, great characters, gorgeous animation, wild colours, superb voice cast – what’s not to love?

Monsters, Inc. is the latest film from Pixar, the people who made the Toy Story films and A Bug’s Life. As such, it stands a very good chance of being the first film to win this year’s inaugural Best Animated Film Oscar, with only a rather large green smelly ogre by the name of Shrek standing in its way.

Still, whether it wins or not, Monsters, Inc is perfect feel-good family entertainment – kids will adore it, but adults are in for a treat too.

Michael ‘Mike’ Wazowski (small, green, one eye, voiced by Billy Crystal) and James P. ‘Sully’ Sullivan (big, blue, furry, voiced by John Goodman) are the top ‘scare team’ at Monsters, Inc, where they generate the screams that power Monstropolis by leaping out of children’s closets –via a complicated ‘magic door’ system- and scaring them.

The joke, however, is that kids are believed to be highly toxic to monster-kind and so the monsters are just as afraid of the children as the children are of the monsters.

So, when a little girl, ‘Boo’, (voiced by Mary Gibbs) becomes stuck in Monstropolis, chaos ensues and it’s up to Mike and Sully to protect her from the authorities and return her safely to her world, while keeping everything secret from sneaky Monsters, Inc employee Randall (Steve Buscemi), who suspects they are up to something.

One thing is immediately obvious when watching Monsters, Inc – the technology involved in the animation process has come on in leaps and bounds. Sully, in particular is so beautifully, painstakingly animated that it’s almost as if Pixar are jumping up and down yelling "Hey! Look! We can do HAIR!"

In fact, every frame is a delight and this film will doubtless have a huge after-life on DVD, when people can freeze every frame and check out all the different background monsters.

The voice-cast are all perfect, with Crystal funnier here than he has been in any of his last few live-action comedies. Goodman is equally wonderful, providing the loveable ‘heart’ of the film to go along with Crystal’s wisecracking. Buscemi, too, is delightfully slimy and there’s also good support from the likes of Jennifer Tilly and James Coburn.

There is an awful lot to enjoy here, from movie in-jokes (a restaurant called ‘Harryhausens’) to wisecracks and top visual gags ("Slumber Party!"), as well as a cracking all-action, door-slamming finale that seems inspired by both Wallace and Gromit and old Warner Bros cartoons.

There’s also a hint of a ‘Don’t yell in front of your kids’-type message thanks to a particularly well-handled scene, but for the most part Monsters, Inc resists the heavy-handed message-delivery that almost scuppered Shrek and settles for sending you out of the cinema with a warm heart and an unfeasibly large grin on your face (though don’t leave too soon or you’ll miss the comedy ‘out-takes’).

In short, Monsters, Inc is perfect feel-good family entertainment, perhaps not on the level of Toy Story, but more fun than A Bug's Life. Kids, at any rate, will be thrilled, so adults should be prepared to start shelling out for those big blue Sully toys. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 20/10/2017 22:42

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