A.J.'s Rating: 4 Mon-Stars
Monsters, Inc.
Directed By:  Peter Docter, David Silverman
Written By:  Dan Gerson, Andrew Stanson
Starring:  The vocal talents of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Jennifer Tilly, James Coburn, Steve Buscemi, John Ratzenberger, Frank Oz, Bonnie Hunt, Mary Gibbs
Rated:  G
Running Time:  88 Min.
    Every little kid knows they're there, just waiting for mom or dad to declare 'bedtime' and turn out the lights on another carefree day.  Some say they live under the bed, and others say they don't exist at all, but we know the truth... monsters are real and the closet is where they first appear.  (They only sneak under the bed later, to scare the wits out of any kid foolish enough to look for them there.)  In Monsters, Inc., James P. 'Sully' Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, voiced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, are two of those monsters who lurk behind that innocent looking closet door. 
    Mike and Sully are also best buddies and co-workers at the local power plant.  They scare up energy for the city of Monstropolis by collecting the screams of frightened children.  Sully is a top scarer, closing in on the all-time scream record.  He's the Barry Bonds of the monster world.  Mike is his faithful assistant, who keeps his eye on things while Sully does his fearsome work.  Sully has that work cut out for himself though, because kids today are getting more difficult to scare, other monsters are out to break his record, and Monstropolis is on the verge of a serious power crisis.
    Scaring is a good job, but it's also a dangerous one.  Every monster knows that any closet door they pass through could be their last, since it's common monster knowledge that the mere touch of a human child could spell doom for even the strongest scarer!  Because of this, elaborate measures have been taken to train new scarers and keep the monster world free from lethal contamination.  Measure like, um, not leaving any doors open...
    Elaborate measures also seem to have been taken by the team at Pixar, the whizzes behind A Bug's Life and the Toy Story movies, just to bring this wonderfully funny monster story to life!  With each new movie, Pixar has pushed the boundaries of feature film digital animation.  These guys must really enjoy making things difficult for themselves, as Monsters, Inc. features some of the most incredible animation effects and amazing digital characters seen thus far.  I suspect Pixar must have had the cooperation of actual monsters in making this film, it's SO realistic! 
    While it doesn't have quite the depth or complexity of the Toy Story movies, Monsters, Inc. still has a story that would be just as fun, clever and entertaining even if Pixar had only used finger puppets to tell it.  As with previous Pixar films, the plotline boils down to that of trusted friends who face adversity together and, in the end, are stronger for it.  It's a great lesson for kids of all ages, told with humor, silliness and subtle but heartfelt emotion. 
   As if that weren't enough, before Monsters, Inc. even begins, Pixar treats us to a cool animated short entitled For the Birds
    This one's a sure winner.  Don't be afraid, go see it!  
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Review published
November 2, 2001
Mike & Sully
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