Having a very keen enthusiasm for CGI work (Toy Story effects were included in my Final Year project – even though it had not a lot to do with what I studied, but hey, it scored highly!) the recent steps in the digital evolution have really impressed. From the offset CGI was very impressive, from the water tentacles in The Abyss to Jurassic Park. However, the flipside was that it seemed overused in a lot of movies where CGI replaced plot and story telling magic (Jurassic Park 3 is a prime example). How to overcome such a problem where CGI is the only medium? Simple, tell a good story. Pixar have always managed to keep audiences enthralled with simple entertaining stories. They started with toys in a young boys room, went onto the Magnificent Seven With Bugs, returned to the toys and now with their fourth feature film they have investigated what’s inside of every child’s wardrobe.
Monsters Inc is a very simple film, where an organisation called Monster Inc works collecting children’s screams, which are used as a power source in their world. As it transpires, the monsters are more afraid of the children and they believe them to be highly toxic, even to the extent, that they have a SWAT team style detoxifying team. The story unfolds with a large, intimidating monster with blue fur and horns called James P Sullivan (John Goodman), Sulley to his friends. His best friend, Scare partner and roommate is Mike Wzowski (Billy Crystal), a green, one eyed, opinionated little fellow. These two partners are the top scarers of Monsters Inc and are vying for the all time scare record. One of their rival co-workers, a sarcastic chameleon monster called Randall Boggs, played with enthusiasm by Steve Buscemi, is also trying for the record and it’s a close race. The happy coexistence of the monster world and our world continues night after night, where the children’s screams are used as a power source. Unfortunately Sully unleashes one of the greatest horrors of the monster world through a wardrobe door - a small child.
What ensues is chaos, where Sulley and Mike try to hide the fact they have slipped up to prevent being banished, and uncover a sinister plot which would break down the entire Monsters Inc corporation. Will our two heroes manage to save the day, get the girl (in Mike’s case) and save the company?
True to Disney & Pixar films, there are a lot of gags aimed at adults, hidden amongst the background so the parents will enjoy it as much as the kids (Jessie from Toy Story 2 can be spied in the girls' bedroom for example). The fact that the Lochness monster, Bigfoot and Yeti are all former Monsters Inc employees who were banished into the human world, for some error on their part, is a nice touch. The animation is fantastic, Toy Story started the genre and Shrek took it further than ever, but the animation in Monsters Inc is right up there. While Shrek was detailed to an extent never seen before, with humans and lighting effects that were astounding, Monsters Inc has every hair on Sulley moving in an amazingly realistic manner, every background is detailed and all the monsters' movements are fantastic. Did I mention every hair on Sulley moves as if real? Its amazing to watch. Goodman is excellent as Sulley and his voice adds real character to him, but Crystal steals the show as his fast talking sarcastic partner providing much of the laughs.
Disney have a proven track record when it come to CGI animated films and Monsters Inc is no exception, with its simple story and great visuals. Add the talent of not only Goodman, Crystal and Buscemi but James Coburn as the CEO of Monsters Inc, Jennifer Tilly as Mikes’ object de joure and the distinctive voice talent of Frank Oz as Boggs’s scare partner and how can it fail? Crank up the PCs at Pixar for the sequel!
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