Monsters, Inc. is an American film about a world where monsters scare sleeping children and harness their screams as power, and the story of two buddies who find themselves in deep trouble when a human child manages to break through into their world.
This is only Pixar’s fourth film, but it’s an incredible achievement. Not only does it feature beautiful animation like all their movies, but it’s one of the most consistently emotionally affecting stories I’ve ever seen, whilst also managing to be wonderfully enjoyable and hugely funny from start to finish.
Let’s start with the animation, which is, as always, gorgeous. Most impressively, the animation of Sulley’s fur is very realistic, but beyond that, the scope of the whole world is brilliant. Toy Story and Bug’s Life dealt with worlds on Earth, and although the monsters’ world is clearly similar to the human world, the vibrant animation gives it a unique life that makes it wonderful to look at.
Moving onto the story, and it’s hard to deny how emotional this film is. We know that Pixar are geniuses when it comes to toying with your emotions (Inside Out, the beginning of Up, the end of Toy Story 3), but Monsters Inc is a completely different animal.
The relationship that develops between Sulley, a monster, and Boo, the human child, is so sweet that it kept putting a massive grin on my face. However, there are so many other moments right the way through this film that are so deeply sad and impacting, but more so than any other Pixar film, they’re subtle. I wasn’t in floods of tears, but the emotional impact from some of these moments really got under my skin, and that’s a unique feat that very few other films achieve, putting this right up there with Inside Out as the most consistently emotional Pixar film of all.
However, don’t think that Monsters Inc is all doom and gloom, because it really isn’t. Whilst so much of the effect comes from the emotion, the overwhelming atmosphere of the film is fantastically funny. Whether it’s the brilliant odd-couple chemistry between Mike and Sulley (both played amazingly by Billy Crystal and John Goodman respectively), or just the various hijinks that occur around the monster world, there’s so much to laugh at here, and it makes for a hugely entertaining watch.
Finally, the portrayal of the monster world is excellent. Yes, on the face of things, it’s a human world but with everything made more monster-ish, but as the film goes on, you notice so many subtle differences that makes the whole film feel so unique and special, and that’s another fantastic achievement that the writers need to be proud of, because it’s so easy to just impose human customs on another world, but they give a completely different culture to the monsters’ world, and it really makes for something brilliant.
Overall, there’s no denying that Monsters Inc isn’t just one of Pixar’s best films, but an amazing film full stop. With astonishing emotional power and hilarious comedy that both play together so well throughout, this is a hugely unique and enjoyable film, and that’s why it gets a 9.1 from me.