Sully: Actually, that’s my, uh, cousin’s sister’s daughter, sir.
Mike: Yeah, it’s uh… Bring an Obscure Relative To Work Day.
Monsters, Inc. is the fourth movie in the Pixar film series, and like the first three, had great success at the box office. The funny, sincere friendship between Sully and Mike Wazowski was immediately brought to life by the incredible voice talent of John Goodman and Billy Crystal. Their chemistry combined with a script packed with memorable, funny lines and a plot with enough complexity to keep an adult entertained ensured this film was another excellent example of what happens when movies are not rushed or halfheartedly remade.
Pixar has a brilliant way of taking a relatively common experience and flipping it on its head to create a whole new universe. In Monsters, Inc., a child fearing the monster in the closet travels through the closet into a clever and funny world where monsters are hysterically terrified of a single small child. This invites a fun way to explore fear and what makes something truly scary.
At the beginning of the movie, we see a monster attempting to be scary, but is in fact frightened of the child he is scaring which creates a hilarious situation and clever introduction to this world of monsters. We quickly learn that fear does not depend on looks; it depends on presentation. These monsters are unsure of themselves, silly, and kind. They have to be specially trained to be “scarers” because most of them do not have what it takes to scare a child. Even Sully, the greatest scarer of them all, is affectionately dubbed Kitty by Boo, a young child who only sees a soft, cuddly friend. At the factory, we meet Randall, who is more lizard than monster. He does not have horns or big claws like Sully, but despite his appearance is more terrifying than any other monster so far (with the possible exception of Mr Waternoose and his giant spider legs). Later on, we meet the Abominable Snowman who is anything but scary. In fact, he wants to be called the Adorable Snowman and he kindly makes suspicious yellow snow cones (What? Don’t worry! They’re lemon!). Perhaps nothing is funnier than the gawky teenage monsters with braces as they stumble through life, valiantly attempting (and failing) to stand up to their mothers.
The rest of the movie is packed with entertaining monster-versions of life, from sludge coffee to the faithful reporting we see on the Monster News station (“The kid flew right over me and blasted me with its laser vision!”), as Sully and Mike fight to get Boo back to her own room. Sully wrestles with the guilt of hurting his company but knows taking care of Boo is the right thing to do. Mike Wazowski is willing to help his best friend even if he doesn’t necessarily agree with him. I feel compelled to mention the chase scene towards the end of the film as what I believe is one of the best movie chase scenes ever. Mike and Sully are in a room filled with doors that lead to the human world, and are trying to get to the correct one to get Boo home. Randall chases them in and out of these doors, trying to get Boo, which results in the three monsters sprinting in and out of various parts of the human world, never knowing where they will be next. Ultimately, Sully must say goodbye to Boo in the traditional heartbreaking moment we’ve come to expect, dread, and love from Pixar. Tears ensue. But Pixar knows the secret – the sad tears are soon to be followed by happy tears.
References to other Pixar films: There are quite a few fun references throughout the movie. There is a picture of Marlin from Finding Nemo on the wall of Harryhausen (the sushi restaurant where Mike Wazowski takes his lovely girlfriend). Boo hands Sully several toys near the end of the movie including Jessie from Toy Story and Nemo from Finding Nemo. The compacted trash cube is remarkably similar to the cubes made by Wall-e. Finally, Randall creepily tells Sully that humans skin monsters and make toilet seat covers out of their fur. In Toy Story 3, we see a Sully-colored toilet seat cover in Bonnie’s bathroom as she plays with her toys in the bathtub. (Seems like Pixar indulged a slightly darker sense of humor with the last one.)