Movie Review: "Monsters, Inc. 3D"
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: November 2, 2001
Directed by: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
Stars: 4 out of 5
Pixar is known for expert computer animation and clever storytelling, and it steps up to the plate again with "Monsters Inc. 3D." The story takes place in a world of monsters that exists, apparently, on the other side of the human world's closet doors. The two main characters, Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan, work in a scream factory owned by Monster, Inc. Affectionately known as Sully by most of the characters, Sullivan is a fierce blue beast with a heart of gold. Wazowski, a wisecracking, one-eyed sidekick, seems to provide the brains behind Sully's brawn.
At work, Sully spends time climbing through unframed doors into the bedrooms of children throughout the world. When they scream, a meter is filled up in monster land, providing the energy that runs the city. Scream production is on a decline, due in part to the fact that modern kids are much harder to scare than the children of the past were. When a young girl follows Sully through to monster land, a series of hilarious adventures ensues that is anything but scary.
Numerous stars lend their talent to "Monsters, Inc. 3D." Billy Crystal voices the neurotic and sarcastic Wazowski while John Goodman provides the sincere, rumbling voice of Sully. Character actor Steve Buscemi is spot on as villain Randall Boggs. Other recognizable voices include James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, and John Ratzenberger. Crystal and Goodman make the camaraderie between the main characters believable and contribute to stark hilarity based on perfectly paced line delivery.
The genius behind "Monsters, Inc. 3D" is the way that the monster world mimics the human world. The scream factory is governed by a group of corporate bureaucrats and is filled with office politics and intrigue. A HazMat-style group rushes in at the least sign of any "contamination," and one hilariously overstated scene shows a group of monsters in yellow suits securing the area and shaving another monster who had the misfortune to touch a human sock. Adults will howl with laughter at the real-world satire, but there is still enough slapstick and obvious humor for kids of all ages.
The fact that the monsters fear kids as much or more than kids fear monsters makes for a great plot twist when Boo, a young child, finds her way into the monster world. Sully quickly realizes that Boo is not as dangerous as they think, but he knows the monster authorities may do something harmful if they catch her. Mike and Sully begin an epic effort to return Boo to the human world in secret, but they are confounded by a sneaky Randall and the questionable actions of their boss.
As with most Pixar movies, "Monsters, Inc. 3D" is filled with clever plot twists and references, which is why it will keep older viewers watching through the sillier parts. One very clever scene has to do with the Abominable Snowman's relation to both the human and monster world. Side plots include a rivalry between Sully and Randall for the top scarer spot and Mike's attempts at romancing Celia, who is voiced by Jennifer Tilly.
Underlying the comedy is a possible message regarding immoral business practices and even a hint at the need to conserve resources or find new energy options. Although the story definitely ends with at least one moral, there is no sermon found in the slapstick, fast-paced dialogue. At times, the tone of the monster world and its relation to the scream factory seems almost mid-twentieth century in tone, but that lends a charming atmosphere to what could otherwise be a scary concept for the youngest of viewers.
Overall, "Monsters, Inc. 3D" is a funny movie that is appropriate for almost any viewer. This would make a great flick for family movie night because it has something that appeals to almost everyone. Viewers with 3D television capabilities will also enjoy an engaging, interactive viewing experience. There are many points where 3D action might even enhance the enjoyment of the film. This is especially true for several of the scare scenes, one episode where Mike and Sully are fleeing authorities, and a climactic scene in the scream factory that involves thousands of doors on hanging conveyer systems.
Although the film is rated G, it is based on the concept of monsters in the closet. There are also a few short scenes where the monsters attempt to be frightening. These may disturb children who are easily frightened, so parents may want to prepare younger viewers for those scenes and reinforce the fact that the movie is fiction.