The fourth feature from Pixar marked the second departure from the Toy Story franchise and the first time that John Lasseter had relinquished the director’s chair. Despite having the biggest budget to date for Pixar, Monsters, Inc. was another huge commercial success proving once again that the kings of animation were not a one trick pony and paving the way for more unique features in the proceeding years.
The story of Monsters, Inc. is, in a nut shell, “What if the monsters in your closet were real?”. Again, a simple premise much like Toy Story which may not appear to have a lot of mileage but as ever with Pixar at the helm adding their familiar midas touch, the story again is hugely appealing to both children and adults alike and is a visual masterpiece.
In the monster world of Monstropolis, rather than running on electricity everything relies on the power of screams to work. It is the job of Monsters Incorporated (Monsters, Inc.) to bottle the screams of children in the real world to power their city which is done by sending their best scarers through bedroom doors and having them scare up a storm. Monsters, Inc.’s top scarer is Sulley (John Goodman), a giant blue furry monster who when not scaring children is as jovial as he large. His arch rival is Randall (Steve Buscemi) who will stop at nothing to reach the top and his assistant and best friend is the wise cracking cyclops Mike (Billy Crystal) who has an answer for everything.
When things go awry in the shape of a small girl called Boo following Sulley through her closet door into the monster world, Mike and Sulley have to hide her away and figure out how to return her to the human world before they are discovered to be harbouring this most deadly of fugitives. When word gets out that a human child is in Monstropolis, Randall gets suspicious and the race is on to return Boo whilst keeping her out of harm’s reach. Along the way, Randall’s dastardly plan to start extracting screams using a diabolical contraption are uncovered, as are a conspiracy that goes all the way to the Monsters, Inc. owner Henry J. Waternoose (James Coburn).
As with almost every Pixar film, be it short or feature length, Monsters, Inc. is packed full of great characters, storyline and mind blowing visuals and direction that we now take for granted. The climactic scenes involving a high speed roller coaster ride through the bowels of Monsters, Inc.’s door system is relentlessly brilliant, as are the comedy nuances in every character and the hilarious fringe characters such as Roz the dispatch manager and the misunderstood Abominable Snowman. Every bit of the film is enjoyable with no dead spots and again in classic Pixar style it manages to pack in a few emotional moments pitched at just the right level.
Monsters, Inc. is yet another masterpiece from the finest animation studio of the modern era; the consistency with which they can make films to thoroughly entertain viewers of all ages is a skill that no-one exercises better.