Pixar and Disney try to reclaim their throne from Dreamworks' Shrek with Monsters, Inc., a movie with heart, comedy, but not quite as much ambition as some other movies.
The movie stars John Goodman and Billy Crystal as two monsters who work for a power company in Monstropolis, who's only job are to "capture" the screams of human children for power. Things get bad, though, when they accidentally bring a human child into their world, and end up uncovering a conspiracy.
Monsters, Inc. is funny enough, including several wisecracks from the two comedians. Crystal's character (the one-eyed green thing) acts much like Crystal does in his movies, very sarcastic and with a short temper. Goodman plays a more loveable and gentle monster, who befriends the little child. A lot of the comedy is situational, though, and very visual. The variety in monsters is pretty good, and a lot of them do a lot of stupid things. The goofy things the monsters do are good enough to make the audience laugh, but visual antics can only keep an adult audience entertained for so long. Where Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, and also Shrek used a perfect blend of visuals and script, Monsters, Inc. relies a little too heavily on visuals. The script is a little uninteresting at times.
The graphics also seem a lot less aggressive than the other Pixar ventures. Toy Story, of course, set the stage, and Toy Story 2 updated itself with three or so years worth of new visuals. A Bug's Life really stretched Pixar's imagination, relying on some pretty tricky animations. But Monsters, Inc. seems like a step back from even the original Toy Story, with softer and more cartoonish graphics. I really felt the visuals needed to be a lot sharper to really capture my attention. Of course, at times (like when the monsters are banished into the Himalayas), the graphics shine like they should, but through most of the film they seem subdued.
Monsters, Inc. lacks in some places but it is really saved by the little adorable human child. The animators have captured emotions wonderfully, and the audience really feels for the little girl. She cries, she laughs, and basically she just runs around, getting the monsters into all kinds of trouble. It's great.
The movie starts out good and bad, depending on how you look at it. The short film delivered directly before the actual movie is hilarious, much better than the movie itself. The opening credits for Monsters, Inc., however, is quite different. It really sucks.
Monsters, Inc. is a pretty cute and entertaining film, but compared to Pixar's other films, and Shrek, it hits a little below the mark.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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