Monsters under our beds. The scary noises coming from the darkness of our closet. Weird shadowy figures lurking in the corners of the room. All of those are things that every one of us dealt with at some point in their life or another. We are scared of the unknown and what could jump out at us at any second. It’s not true that we are always frightened of what may happen to us, but merely scared of having our heart jump out of our chest for five or ten seconds. People often say that there’s nothing in the dark that isn’t there during the day. I find that delightfully untrue because when you are in the dark and can’t see; things can sneak in unnoticed. Kind of funny isn’t it? Or is it scary? I’m not really sure which it is, but there’s always the possibility of having a combination of the two.
Monstropolis is a city that is not overrun by monsters but it is where the monsters of the world live and work. They go about their daily lives just as humans do but their world has one subtle (yet huge) difference as opposed to ours. Power and energy to keep Monstropolis running comes from the screams and fear of children. When a child screams or cries out in fright, it actually generates power to keep Monstropolis running smoothly. Monsters Inc. is the main power plant in the city where only the best and scariest monsters work to keep things running smoothly. Scares are what they need but as more time goes on, children start developing a tolerance for monsters and aren’t as scared as they used to be. This could cause big problems for the city and the existence of monsters all together. Little do they realize that even bigger problems are soon in store for them.
Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are two well known names throughout the halls at Monsters Inc. Little did they know things were about to get pretty hairy for them and everyone else in the city. As the monsters try to figure out just how to get more scares out of the children, one curious little girl aptly nicknamed Boo has found her way into Monstropolis causing a giant uproar. Both Mike and Sulley (especially Sulley) quickly develop a soft spot for Boo and must protect her at all costs to get her back to her world. Unfortunately an evil monster named Randall is out to expose Mike and Sulley’s traitorous ways as well as become the top monster over Sulley no matter what the cost. It’s a race to get Boo safely back to her room while also trying to figure out exactly how to keep Monstropolis with enough power to survive.
Monsters Inc. is a fun, hilarious, and exciting adventure from beginning to end which anyone will attest to. The story is an interesting take on how the world views monsters and takes what we look at as “make-believe” gives it a real twist. My favorite aspect of the entire film is that monsters aren’t there just to scare kids but actually use the fear and screams for a purpose. Seeing it from the monsters’ point of view adds another dimension to the film because instead of feeling for the frightened children, we associate with characters like Mike and Sulley so we can see how their life is run day by day. All of that comes to a head and yet even more is added to the story when the incredibly cute and adorable Boo jumps through her door and ends up in Monstropolis. Hearing Boo scream “KITTY” randomly at Sulley just warms my heart every time and makes me smile. That is the gift that Pixar and Disney possess…making us give so much of a damn for the characters they create.
The voices of the characters also help us associate with them and it seems to never fail that the perfect choices are always made. It’s near impossible now to think of anyone but John Goodman as Sulley or hearing any voice but Billy Crystal coming from the one-eyed Mike. It makes it better too that these actors are able to deliver sympathy and humor through their voices so well making the lines have so much more meaning behind them. Same goes for Steve Buscemi who plays the part of the evil Randall. Hearing his almost nasally voice come from the purple slime almost makes you see Buscemi’s face intermixed with Randall’s. Disney and Pixar know how to make every single detail of their creations to utmost perfection which means that Monsters Inc. jumps into the list of the great collection of films that will continue to grow for years to come.
Mind you, while it may not be as memorable or historic to me personally as say Wall-E or Ratatouille, at least it’s not Cars.
All the horror and the comedy is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and I find it hard-pressed to see a single problem with this presentation. Every single color, shadow, detail, building, monster, hair, and anything else you could imagine is perfectly designed to look as real as possible. The picture comes through ultimately clear and crisp with no issues to be found.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and much like the video quality, it is excellent. All dialogue can be heard perfectly while sound effects and the wonderful songs blare around the room. Make sure you pay attention during your second or third watch of the film for all the small details thrown in like extra voices, tiny sounds, and monster roars.
Audio Commentary – Directors Pete Docter and Lee Unkrich are joined by producer John Lasseter and co-writer Andrew Stanton for the commentary track. These four make for a very light-hearted and fun discussion that gives forth a lot of information about the film from storyline to CGI to characters and everything you’d ever want to know about Monsters Inc..
Filmmaker’s Roundtable – Docter, Unkrich, producer Darla K. Anderson, and story supervisor Bob Peterson talk about a variety of topics that went into making the film and so on. One point of the conversation which was totally unexpected yet very interesting is 9/11. Pixar was sent into a panicked tizzy when it happened for many reasons and it almost caused issues for Monsters Inc. considering how close it happened to the release date. Great feature here. (21:35)
Mike’s New Car – A Pixar animated short dealing with Mike and Sulley as they check out Mike’s newest purchase. Optional commentary by the children of the filmmakers. (3:47)
Ride And Go Seek: Building Monstropolis In Japan – Take a trip to Tokyo Disneyland and you will see one of the most exciting and engaging rides I’ve ever seen. Having experienced the “Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor” at Walt Disney World in Orlando; it’s safe to say that the two attractions are nowhere near similar. The Japanese ride seems so cool and I’d love to actually experience it first hand. (7:58)
For The Birds – Another Pixar short that is just incredibly awesome. Optional commentary by Ralph Eggleston. (3:28)
Pixar Fun Factory Tour – An awesome look through the palace that is Pixar. I honestly wouldn’t have minded this being a lot longer and much more thorough. (3:34)
Story: 4-Parter – Members of the Pixar crew take different looks at how they put together the story for the film and how they made sure to use their intricate attention to detail in order to make it as realistic as possible. As realistic for monsters as possible that is. Four parts: “Story Is King” (2:00), “Monsters Are Real” (1:29), “Original Treatment” (13:40), and “Story Pitch: Back To Work” (4:39).
Banished Concepts – A host of five deleted scenes that are taken apart bit by bit by Unkrich. Unlike most DVDs that offer scenes that would have had no bearing on the film; these actually are quite interesting. Most of them would have added a little something or even possibly changed parts of the film entirely.
Storyboard To Film Comparison – Your basic look at how the animation goes from rough drawing to finished product. (5:14)
Art Gallery – So many pictures, drawings, and so on that it is hard to keep any sort of accurate count. If you have some spare time then I’d highly recommend flipping through all of them.
Monster Song – Composer Randy Newman is honored here and rightfully so as the man has surely put together some of the greatest musical scores that I’ve heard in my lifetime. (4:13)
Sound Design – Sound guy Gary Rydstrom goes through all the different sounds put in and also created for the film to make it not only realistic but unique. (4:16)
Animation: Multi-Parter – This feature could have been over an hour long and it would have been well worth checking out. We’re taken on a trip from the very beginning of the animation process all the way through to the end and everything in between. Commentary and interviews are interlaced between footage so that all being seen can be fully understood and looked at even closer. Great stuff here. (28:35)
Designing Monstropolis – The world of Monsters Inc. has much more to it then all that is seen while paying attention to Mike, Sulley, or Boo. This feature showcases all the little details that are thrown in while making Monstropolis feel and act as a real city. (2:51)
Set Dressing Intro – Sophie Vinclette takes viewers on a tour of the different locations/sets to tell us how they aren’t too perfect looking. Not only do they need to look real, but they also need to look lived-in, used, and abused. Pretty cool featurette that seems to end as soon as it gets started. (3:22)
Location Flyarounds – A very unique look at the locations/settings for the film with no-one around. It’s a great 360 degree angle look at just how detailed and well-designed everything was. This is a phenomenal feature and one that I wish more animated films would include on their home releases. (7:25)
Cast Of Characters – Interviews with the cast is all this is, but it’s not bad. (5:51)
What Makes A Great Monster – A quick overview of just how much thought goes into creating monsters and making sure they’re believable and just plain cool. (1:24)
Monster TV Spots – Mike and Sulley have a camera crew along to film some holiday TV commercials. It’s almost like the people at Pixar got bored and had time to do some extra random stuff which always ends up being some of their best work. (1:13)
On The Job With Mike And Sulley – Our main men…err, monsters are interviewed about their daily life and how things go in their place of work. Seems to me like they look at their jobs like most humans do. Even if you enjoy it; you’ve still got to get up and head to work in the morning. (2:31)
Welcome To Monsters Inc. – Your true welcome to the world of the monsters. (0:58)
Your First Day – Since you’re a brand new monster, it’s time to learn the history of your new company. A training video of sorts. (3:34)
History Of A Monster World – Some extra sketches and drawings help complete the history of your new position at Monsters Inc. so that you can be fully prepared to do the scariest/funniest job imaginable.(1:36)
Roz’s 100 Door Challenge Game – A trivia game that is fun for the entire family. It is actually a bit more difficult then one might come to expect from Disney releases so it gives a good challenge to all of those that play.
Ponkickies 21 – A very strange Japanese kid’s show that includes an odd game of “Paper, Rock, Scissors” helped along with appearances by Mike and Sulley.
“If I Didn’t Have You” Music Video
DVD Version Of Monsters Inc.
DisneyFile Digital Copy
So it may not be my favorite Disney film or even my top pick from Pixar, but Monsters Inc. is everything it is cracked up to be and then some. The film itself is a fantastic story that verges on the border of trying to be scary while also trying to be sweet. It’s meant to be a tale that at first seems frightening but changes over to humor only to have sweetness and love take over to make it almost sickeningly sweet. To me it’s no Finding Nemo or Toy Story, but it is still in the top tier of Pixar films and will be for a long time to come. As for the presentation of the Blu-ray, there is nothing better. The special features are phenomenal and will keep you and your kids busy for an entire weekend. What more could you ask for? A lot of the features are imported from the original DVD release so choose wisely here. But if you’ve never owned a copy of Monsters Inc. then there is no question as to which version you should own now. Remember, scaring is caring.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Monsters Inc.. Directed by: Pete Docter & David Silverman. Starring (voices): John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly, and many more. Written by: Pete Docter & Jill Culton. Running time: 91 minutes on 4 discs. Rating: G. Released on DVD: November 10, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: billy crystal, Disney, John Goodman, Pixar, Steve Buscemi