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Monsters Inc.

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Monsters Inc.

Starring: John Goodman, Billy Crystal
Director: David Silverman
Rated: G
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: November 2001
Genres: Animation, Kids

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Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

It's a question of scale. On an absolute scale, Pixar's MONSTERS, INC. is an imaginative, funny and beautifully computer generated film that's a terrific choice for the whole family.

The problem comes from comparison with all of the Pixar films (TOY STORY, A BUG'S LIFE and TOY STORY 2) that have come before it. Relative to them, MONSTERS, INC. is a bit of a disappointment, being more thinly plotted and containing almost no memorable lines. The lead characters are well drawn, but the others are just barely sketched in (double pun intended).

The movie starts quite well by providing a great warm-up act. I'd call it a cartoon except that it's really a computer animated short story. Called FOR THE BIRDS, it is completely adorable, is fast paced and serves brilliantly as the appetizer for another Pixar main course.

The plot, as we all know, having seen the trailers about a million times, concerns the monsters who live in kids' closets and who come out to scare them at night. The monsters incorrectly believe that kids are toxic, so the monsters are much more scared of the kids than the kids are of the monsters.

Monsters, Inc. is a company that is bottling kids' screams as a power source. The corporation's number one frightener currently is James P. 'Sulley' Sullivan (John Goodman), who is aided by his wisecracking sidekick Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). Number two and closing in fast is the evil Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi).

One disastrous night, Sulley accidentally lets out a toddler, whom he nicknames Boo (Mary Gibbs). She goes through the portal from her room to the monster's world. The movie concerns Sulley's attempt to return her to her bedroom. (Some may get a little queasy since the corporation sends out men in decontamination suits, viewing Boo as something akin to a biological hazard. Most kids won't notice. It's their parents who may be a tad uncomfortable.)

Boo is a sweetheart who can barely talk. Instead, she merrily babbles, cries and laughs. Sulley, a big, green and purple monster, is a lovable teddy bear sort who treats Boo with a boundless reserve of love, kindness and protection. We should all be blessed with such monsters in our closets.

The last act is easily the most fun. In pursuit of Boo's door, we careen down a conveyor belt of doors, popping in and out of the human world. It's like a Disneyland ride -- and probably will be in the future. The final scene is a real charmer. If I could just get the other three Pixar movies out of my mind, I might really get excited about this movie.

MONSTERS, INC. runs 1:24. It is rated G and would be fine for all ages, with the possible exception of easily frightened kids under 5.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it ***, saying it was good and funny. There with his seventh grade class, friends and relatives, most of the kids gave the movie *** or *** 1/2. Sam found it annoying and Noveed thought it was too cutesy, but most of the others were enthusiastic. Typical was Caitlin, who thought the movie was "really, really good." Several of the kids compared it to SHREK, and those that did all liked SHREK a little better.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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