Movie Review

Monsters, Inc.

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family (6+)
Genre:
Animation Fantasy Adventure Comedy Kids Family
Length:
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
November 2, 2001
3D release: December 19, 2012
Copyright, Pixar click photos to ENLARGE Scene from Monsters, Inc. Scene from Monsters, Inc.
Relevant Issues
Voices of Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, James Coburn, and Bob Peterson in Monsters, Inc.

FEAR OF THE DARK—How can I help my child to trust in God’s care when she is afraid at night? Answer

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

questions and answers about pParenting

friendship

rivalry / competition

conspiracy

greed

corruption

redemption

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.

Featuring: John GoodmanJames P. “Sulley” Sullivan (voice)
Billy Crystal … Mike Wazowski (voice)
Mary Gibbs … Boo (voice)
Steve BuscemiRandall Boggs (voice)
James Coburn … Henry J. Waternoose (voice)
Jennifer Tilly … Celia (voice)
Bob Peterson … Roz (voice)
John Ratzenberger … The Abominable Snowman (voice)
Frank Oz … Fungus (voice)
more »
Director: Pete Docter
David Silverman (co-director)
Lee Unkrich (co-director)
Producer: Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
more »
Distributor: Disney/Pixar

“We think they are scary, but really we scare them!”

Probably every parent has helped their child through fearful times. Many of us can still remember when we had thoughts of boogymen under our bed. Even many older children still appreciate the comforts a night light offers.

The problem for some parents is that no matter what, children can still be so easily convinced that there is something lurking! Various counseling resources I’ve read indicate that many parents ignore obvious contributors to the fear factor. I’m amazed at how many parents don’t monitor what their children watch on television. And children who have a parent that works third shift or is involved in divorce, separation, or other conflict in the home can sometimes become frightened of an imaginary world of monsters due to the deeper problem of separation anxiety.

But there is a “Monster Code of Ethics”: Monsters cannot see you if you are in bed and under the covers. Some Web sites even sell various Monster Buster products—wands, or sprays. But I prefer using these moments of fear to reassure my son with scripture. Hebrews 4:13 declares “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account”. In Revelation Jesus says, “I am He who searches hearts and minds.” The bottom line is that we are not alone. I also recommend Psalm 139:1-6 and underscoring the truth that God’s word declares that “perfect love casts out fear”. “Monsters, Inc.” can provide an opportunity to either have a discussions with your child about fears, or it could reinforce them (see my notes at the end). We live in a fearful world presently. Even adults today are anxious over monsters in the mailbox named “Anthrax”.

Thankfully, our monsters from Pixar are clever, funny, and in an energy crisis (huh?). Can you recall when rolling blackouts or paying more than $2.00 for a gallon of gasoline was our biggest fear? The theme is as familiar as giving personality to toys (“Toy Story”) or bugs (“A Bug’s Life”). Many of the gags in the film are parodies of our own world: the universe of Monstropolis has street sweepers depositing trash in their mouth, a slimy monster falls through the slats of a sidewalk gate, and monsters that use underarm deodorants such as “smelly garbage” or “old dumpster”.

Monstropolis is powered by children’s screams, which are collected nightly in large yellow tanks. Sully (voice by John Goodman) is the monster team’s leading scorer. He is about to break the all-time record. His friend and manager is Mike Wazowski (voice by Billy Crystal). Together they talk about everything from work to women. Mike’s love interest happens to be a charmer (pun intended) named Celia (voice by Jennifer Tilly). The entire operation is overseen by Henry J. Waternoose (voice by James Coburn). The conflict in our story is not just the lack of energy, but a monster named Randall Boggs (voice by Steve Buscemi, who get to be creepy for the kids in this film and in “Domestic Disturbance” for adults all at the same time).

Randall will go to any lengths to overtake Sully’s scream totals, so he develops a scream extractor and plans to kidnap children and hold them for “screams”. But monsters firmly believe that children are toxic. This is magnified in Monstropolis when a cute little girl named Boo (voice by 5 year old Mary Gibbs) stumbles into their world. Sully and Mike discover Boo and this sinister plot, teaming up to try and return Boo to her world. This conflict provides for the majority of the action and, of course, chase scenes.

The computer generated graphics are amazing. The studios continue to improve this craft. Mike’s eye looks very realistic and even Sully’s fur blows in the wind. While I found nothing objectionable in this film, there is some caution to be had… namely that some younger children will become frightened (cries and screams could be heard in the theater). “Monsters, Inc.” is rated “G”, but there are many scenes that are way too intense for children 5 and under. I strongly recommend that for the little ones you wait for the video. The Veggie Tales video “Where’s God When I’m S-Scared?” is a good supplement or alternative—which includes a cute story about Frankencelery in “Tales From the Crisper”.

If you have children that wrestle with things that go bump in the night—this film will probably not help much. One final note: “Shrek” moved their video release date to coincide with the wide screen release of “Monsters, Inc.” The big difference between these two is that “Shrek” offends with innuendoes galore and “Monsters” does not.


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Monsters Inc. was a refreshing change of pace. I took both of my children, ages 9 and 7, and we all three enjoyed the show. We had so many favorite parts, it’s hard to choose just one. I went expecting something to be slipped in on this G-rated movie, but was very surprised to not find any on our first go round. I would go see this movie again. The strong message that we received was that it is better to laugh than to scare. It really is a family movie that you can discuss family values after the show is over.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Pamela W., age 39
Positive—Ok… am I the only one that picked up the homosexual innuendos in this movie? I guess I just distrust Disney so much, that I look for them. Although, overall, the movie was fun (too scary for my 4 and 6-year old, though), it was very clear to me that Disney threw in a little “innuendo for thought” during the Abominable Snowman scene. The Snow Monster says something like, “Well, at least you’re stranded here with your best friend.” “he’s not my friend!” says Sully. “Oh,” says the Snow monster, while “twiddling” the top of one of the snow cones he was holding, “I just assumed you were, since you were rolling around like that in the snow…” He goes on to say that it’s not so bad living in the snow, except when he has to “milk his yack,” which is only a problem when “hairs get in your mouth…” Yuck. I think Disney owes us the respect of not sneaking comments like these into childrens’ films.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Cara, age 35
Positive—We took our kids to see this film last night, on the day it opened, and overall it was a very good experience. We did not have to worry about any offensive material, language, or violence (apart from the cartoonish sort). There was a lot of humor in it which was in good taste, which proves that you do not need to resort to bathroom humor to get a laugh. An excellent fantasy film with an imaginative and touching script, which can be enjoyed by ALL ages, whether you are 3 or 93. I have nothing bad to say about the film, and I hope that Hollywood gets the message and produces many more films such as this in the future.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Randy Thomson, age 33
Positive—For my 31st Birthday my wife and I went to see this movie. The movie was thoroughly enjoyable but it did have some scary scenes especially for smaller children. All in all a great experience. The effects were wonderful and the story truly outstanding. I got a few things out of the movie: 1) Sometimes the things that we are fearing aren’t as daunting as we might think. 2) I would love to have a little daughter as cute as the character Boo. 3) I want to be a good Dad. I am sure other people will find other things for which to reflect about.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Michael and Heather Clarke, age 31, 26
Positive—Pixar continues to produce solid, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny movies with the release of Monsters, Inc. A large group of us from Patrick Henry College went and saw this movie and we enjoyed it greatly. Parents and kids will both appreciate this movie, though younger kids might find a few parts scary. The animation is spectacular and the monsters very imaginative, though some might take offense to the varied monster creations. As usual, there are inside jokes thrown in for the older crowd (I especially appreciated the “astronaut” feel when the “scarers” came striding out.), but the movie is also just generally funny and charming for all ages. Simple messages here such as friendship and “laughs are more powerful than screams” shine through, and I didn’t pick up any of the usual Disney “spin”. Kudos to Pixar!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Matthew du Mée, age 19
Positive—This movie was one of the best I’ve seen all year. It had incredible animation, a wonderful cast, and as far as I could tell, was totally clean. The film was hilarious, though not quite as witty as “Toy Story”. It was also quite moving (I cried.) I definitely recommend it.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Jessica, age 19
Positive—Opening weekend was sold out for both matinees and evenings; the theater manager acknowledged that the public is starved for G-rated films. There’s a small amount of body function humor and some fighting and other conflict, but overall the effect of this film’s clever premise might be to LESSEN kids’ fears of monsters in the closet. For the older folks: some clever humor, some political satire, and obscure references (such as naming the monsters’ restaurant after Ray Harryhausen, the 1950s-60s visual-effects wiz behind films like Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and The 3 Worlds of Gulliver). Most kids age 8 or 9 should be fine with the material; but there were some younger kids who had to be carried out screaming. Even G films are not necessarily for everyone these days.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
Brett Willis, age 51
Positive—This movie was wonderful for all ages. My 8 year old and 4 year old enjoyed it as well as my husband and myself. It was funny and showed that things aren’t always what they seem. The kids really laughed at how crazy these monsters are. There were a group of teenagers behind me who were raving about how good this movie was, so I say it is great for everyone from the young to the old. Nothing was offensive at all. A great family movie!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Lisa Ridenour, age 31
Positive—I enjoyed this movie very much. I took my six year old son. He got a little restless but in general enjoyed it also. I would recommend this movie to everyone. Great message, great visual effects, wonderful concept.
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—Lisa McCurdy, age 40
Positive—I think this is the BEST family movie I have seen all year. My 3 year old daughter and I went with some friends for a birthday of a 13 year old and her 18 year old sister. This was excellent for ALL ages. There was NOTHING objectionable in it and we are even planning on going back to see it again. …This movie had a great message, “Laughs are more powerful than Screams”. This is also true in our lives. A family that laughs together is less likely to be screaming at each other.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Tina, age 30
Positive—This movie is refreshingly clean. I took my five year old and two year old to see it and they loved it. I couldn’t think of a single negative thing to say about it. The characters (monsters) are endearing and lovable. You want to give them a big hug. The story line is easy to follow and great for any age group. I highly recommend it for family outings. Disney and Pixar make a great team. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—Carla, age 29
Positive—I found this movie to be amusing and entertaining. While the idea of monsters coming out of my child’s closet concerned me, my apprehension was quickly abated by the carefully depicted plot of the film. …Despite the general concept, we see scaring of children only in the test lab on a dummy and by the bad guys a few times. Several scenes dealing with a machine that extracts screams from a victim are mildly intimidating, but short (the machine is also destroyed before the end of the movie). There are minor acts of violence, including a fight between Mike and Randall. The crowning glory of the film is that laughter creates a stronger energy than the screams, we know “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Overall, this is a wholesome and unoffensive children’s movie that deserves support. I hope that Pixar and Hollywood in general take a lesson and keep these truly delightful kid flicks coming!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Shelby, age 29
Positive—I have been looking forward to this movie since it was first advertised. From the trailers it looked like it was going to be a genuinely funny, enjoyable movie. I was not disappointed at all. This is actually one of the first movies I have seen in recent months if not a year or two that had the audience laughing out loud over very funny scenes and dialogue. It was refreshing to actually enjoy a movie without “fear” of being snuck up with offensive off color humor etc. The opening short film was worth its weight in golden humor. The audience was ready for Monsters, Inc. with a smile and a chuckle. Much needed “comic relief” after such an incredibly horrific last couple of months. Perfect timing and the best use of their talents for such a time as this for the animators and actors. Hooray for Hollywood. Disney!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Linda, age 44
Positive—We went to see this movie on opening day and loved it! I took my 9 and 7 year old children and we all three had a great time laughing together as well as being filled with suspense. I was very surprised to not have a few profanities slipped in, but there were none that I caught. This is a great family movie. We have had some interesting talks about family values as well as how we see others from this movie. There’s a great judge not and you shall not be judged theme. Bottom line for our family is… Laughs are more powerful than screams! Enjoy the movie.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—P. Woody, age 39
Positive—There wasn’t anything bad about this movie and I would recommend it for little kids, but I took my friend’s little brother to it. He loved it and I was totally bored. It was a cleaner alternative to Shrek.
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—KE, age teen
Positive—This movie is so funny yet filled with heart. Not only does this movie keep your attention (kids too!) your kids won’t be afraid of monsters in the closet. Monsters INC. was better that we expected. My 3 year old stayed in his seat the whole time!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Raquel Acevedo, age 32
Positive—I liked this movie tremendously and I’m picky. The boss monster was a little scary for very young children (a cross between a crab and a scorpion with lots of eyes). Scully the blue monster falls in love with a child, finds a force stronger than screams, his best friend does something truly wonderful for him, and it makes parents think about what they look like when they yell at their kids. The ending will make you weep. I loved it.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Riley, age 43
Negative

none

Movie Critics
…refreshingly free of any suggestive elements, foul language or crude humor…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…MESSAGE—Laughs are much more powerful than screams…
—Kids-in-Mind
…a hilarious, incredibly imaginative, exciting, fabulous, family-friendly animated movie…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide