It's hard to remember the last time a movie made you feel like a kid again, but Pixar's latest computer-animated film "Monsters Inc." has managed to win over not only those of children, but the hearts of adults as well with its witty humor, brilliant animation and touching characters and screenplay.
In "Monsters Inc.," the Pixar storytellers and animators, who brought Woody and Buzz to life in both "Toy Story" films, remember what it is like to be 5 years old again and afraid of the monsters that seemingly lurk behind every child's closet door.
Set in Monstropolis, the capital city of monsters and scary creatures, the film centers on Sulley (voiced by John Goodman), an enormous blue and green fuzzy monster whose heart is bigger than his 800-pound frame. Sulley's sidekick is Mike Walzowski (voiced by Billy Crystal), a walking, lime-green eye ball who clearly outwits the rest of the animated cast with his hilarious wisecracks and sarcastic humor.
Sulley and Mike work for Monsters, Inc., the city's energy plant, where together they are quickly on the way to making Sulley the No. 1 monster in the city. It is Sulley's job, along with a handful of other formidable, beast-like creatures, to scare little children by entering their bedrooms at night and making them scream with terror.
There is an interesting plot twist to "Monsters Inc.," and a correction to the former misconception that the monsters we once feared were hiding under our beds to harm us in any way. In the film, Sulley and the other so-called villains only scare the children to gather their screams, which the city then uses for its main source of energy.
A daring child who would bravely touch any creature coming through his or her door would be shocked to find that the monsters in this movie are actually afraid of children, considering their playthings and grubby hands to be toxic and life threatening. One of the most hilarious scenes of the film comes when a monster returns with a sock stuck to his furry back and a special team of men in yellow suits must close the factory in order to "detox" him.
Sulley is in a battle for the No. 1 position against the slithery, snake-like
Randall Boggs (voiced by Steve Buscemi). Randall's trickery and chameleon-like techniques make him the movie's formidable foe, and Sulley soon finds himself innocently caught up in one of his plots of deceit.
When Sulley returns to the office late one night, he discovers a closet door has been left unattended. Not knowing it is part of Randall's plan, Sulley opens the door and enters into a child's bedroom. When he returns to the other side, he discovers he has let in an adorable, attentive two-year-old whose bouncing black pigtails and shiny dark eyes instantly win over the hearts of everyone in the audience.
What follows next is a hilarious attempt on Sulley's part to get the little
girl, who he lovingly nicknames Boo, back through her closet door and safe into her bed before the rest of the plant discovers her whereabouts.
With the help of Mike, the two try to take care of Boo while they develop a plan to return her safely home. In the process, Sulley discovers that not only is Boo safe to touch, but lovable and charmingly innocent as well. He also comes to the conclusion that scaring children is not the key to success after all.
Even more remarkable than the incredible animation in this film is a storyline that tugs at the heartstrings of every one watching it unfold. In the film's final scenes, Sulley fears that he will never see Boo again, and, I'll admit, I became a little choked up with the sentimentality of its climactic ending.
"Monsters Inc." is a film that captures the innocence of childhood and the remarkable enchantment of being young. It was impossible not to fall in love with Boo and her nonsensical babbling, and Pixar deserves the most praise for the charming character she plays in the film.
We live in a world today where artists can create believable human characters from pixels and gigabytes, and Pixar certainly does not let its audience down with "Monsters Inc." The only disappointment came in the lack of hilarious outtakes Pixar is notorious for in its animated movies.
However, the creators of this joyous film more than make up for any of its flaws with an imaginative and whimsical look at the childhood fears that live in all of us and how to look beyond them in order to find the courage and love that lies within.