Monster fun from Pixar and Disney.
photo: Courtesy of saturn Entertainment
Running time: 169 min
Voices: John Goodman (James P. Sullivan), Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski), Steve Buscemi (Randall Boggs), James Coburn (Henry J. Waternoose)
Directed by: Peter Docter with Lee Unkricht and David Silverman
Rating: 7 out of 10
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MONSTERS Inc (2001) is a family comedy in every sense of the word. For adults, it's about the monsters who stalked their childhood nightmares; for 21st century kid sitting in a dark theatre it's a two-hour fantasy that provokes smiles and fears at the same time.
Two funny but loveable monsters - the giant, hairy and good-hearted James P. Sullivan and his green, one-eyed and vertically challenged colleague Mike Wazovski - live in the city of Monstropolis which is threatened by a serious energy shortage. Energy, in Monster world, is produced from the screams of children scared by monsters who visit their rooms in the night and wake them up.
James P. Sullivan (Sulley) has always had the greatest success of any monster in scaring kids and producing energy from their screams. Until the day a little girl named Mary, or Boo, enters his life and changes it.
Little Boo dispels the monsters' fears that children are poisonous. She brings two new emotions - love and friendship - to their world, and after several adventures shows the monsters how to solve their energy crisis by using children's laughter instead of screams.
The simple plot - a comedy with a happy ending - is deftly concealed behind various tricks and humorous scenes, such as one featuring a monster contaminated by a child's sock. The sound track was composed by Randy Newman, who received two Oscar nominations for his work on the Disney animation Toy Story, and another for Toy Story 2.
The computer-generated monsters have all the characteristics of real humans - they can love and hate, make friends and behave loyally, even fall in love with their secretaries. Feelings drive their actions and influence their souls.
If one of the tasks of cartoons is to teach children about their future roles in society, however, the message that comes out of this film is not necessarily heart warming.
Above all this cartoon warns viewers what happens if we show our real feelings. Sully gets kicked out of the company of monsters and banished to the endless snows of the Himalayan mountains after showing friendship and loyalty to little helpless Boo. He eventually returns, but the idea remains as a shadow.
In the era of classic Disney films, children learned about the power of make believe and fantasy; now they seem to be learning about adult lives and rules, and on the strength of this film at least about the advantages of hiding our real feelings. That's a bad message to be sending, but onle can only guess how much is being absorbed by tiny movie-goers alternately giggling and hiding under their seats.