ninth symphony films - movie reviews

MONSTERS, INC. (2001)


DIRECTOR  -  pete docter

RATED  -  g

GENRE  -  animated

LENGTH  -  106 minutes

RELEASED  -  2 november 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  walt disney pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  monsters, inc.

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $115,000,000
monsters, inc. - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from monsters, inc. at amazon.com

buy the dvd from monsters, inc. at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
monsters generate their city's power by scaring children, but they are terribly afraid themselves of being contaminated by children, so when one enters monstropolis, top scarer sulley finds his world disrupted.




MOVIE FACT:
sulley's fur has over a million hairs.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from monsters, inc.

picture from monsters, inc.

picture from monsters, inc.



RATING:


three out of four possible stars

Although it isn't always as funny as its pixar predecessors, Monsters, Inc. will give you a good amount of laughs and a little bit of heart. If that sounds like a Hallmark commercial, it's probably because this is Disney. Pixar has certainly raised the bar for computer animation with this film. What is appealing about their methods is that they haven't gone for the completely realistic type animation, say as in Final Fantasy. When you see Monsters, Inc., you know it's animation.

But they've taken the animation to such a professional level that it's fascinating seeing the little quirks that come out of the animator's minds. For example, there's a spot where Billy Crystal's green one eyed monster character (named Mike) throws snowballs at the big-foot like character of "Sulley," voiced by John Goodman, and the snow seems to stick to Sulley's long blue fur for a few moments before melting. This is similar to the techniques used in Shrek where the characters leave a trail of trampled grass on the path where they're walking.

Perhaps it is odd that I should compare these two obvious archrivals, but it seems fitting, given that the two companies of Disney and Dreamworks have sold these films to a similar audience. Though it should be known that Shrek's audience would probably skew somewhat older (if only by a few years) than Monsters' if only because of Shrek's affinity for fart jokes and the like. I should note here specifically that Monsters, Inc. was made more fun because the filmmakers stayed away from the toilet humor. (mostly ... because there is a suspicious scene concerning some lemon snow-cones ...) But by and large, this Pixar flick was enjoyable without being gross.

I should note also that Pixar has a great ability to create films that appeal to young and old audiences, and Monsters, Inc. was no exception. Obviously, you can't hop into this film expecting Shakespeare, and most of the dialogue is not something that should win awards, but the basic story was very original and the characters were likeable and almost real, emotionally. That's not always the case in animated films. It's hard to create emotion in something that's been animated, but Pixar seems to do it every time the put out a film.

These characters had depth (and i'm not talking about the animation here) and it was easy to feel sympathy for their plight. This comes from a combination of highly advanced animation techniques and fun characters. Billy Crystal's always got a good bead on what's funny and since he was no where near the script for this film (just look at what a mess America's Sweethearts was), there was nothing to worry about. Apparently, Crystal had wanted to voice one of the characters for Toy Story and was ecstatic to get the opportunity to portray Mike, the one eyed monster.

Well, really, he's just an eyeball with legs and arms. And if sometimes Crystal's delivery wasn't as hilarious as it could have been, I can't really fault him. Not everything is going to be funny to every audience member. But this film did have me laughing quite a bit overall. John goodman's portrayal of "sulley" was funny as well, though not hilarious. Perhaps this film's only fault is that it wasn't always funny. And although this is a fault common in many movies, I feel that some of the comedy could have been more worked out. Because sometimes it was just Billy Crystal as "Billy Crystal."

One of the most interesting monsters was Steve Buscemi's bad guy performance as "Randall Boggs," the evil monster who has the ability to disappear at will and blend in with his surroundings. The animation for his characters was really stunning and in some of the scenes, Randall's character is thrown about so much and his colors change so rapidly, that it's hard to appreciate the complexity of his animation. Sometimes getting caught up in the story is all but inevitable.

As with most of the characters, they were all so individual and complex that in the parts of the film that weren't as funny as they could have been, the film was still entertaining. And although this film cannot top the achievement of Toy Story 2, Pixar has still created an animated picture worth a second look and a few awards. It will be exciting to see the Oscar race between these two pictures as they vie for the newly inaugurated best animated film Oscar. It is certain that every few years Disney and Dreamworks will be neck and neck for this award. Unfortunately, animated films are just now becoming advanced enough to compete with live action films, and now they're out of the competition with live action films.

One point that has me wondering though is how Pixar can create such fantastic films with its association with disney, when disney itself has put out so many lackluster animated features in the past few years. A last word on the film ... actually, it doesn't have anything to do with Monsters, Inc. It concerns the short film that was presented before the movie, called For the Birds. In this three-minute film, a flock of tiny birds is annoyed when their telephone line is invaded by a gigantic bird that wants to join them.

Although the film is super-short, it defines how well the Pixar people are able to create that delightful atmosphere that's just pure fun. This short almost reminded me of the "carnival of the animals" section of Fantasia 2000. Very light and hilarious. All in all, Monsters, Inc. was highly enjoyable and expertly animated. Its sense of fun was more innocent than the other animated heavyweight this year, Shrek. The comedy was fun (though not always hilarious) and that gushy Disney sense of "heart" was omni-present throughout the film.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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