Friday, October 5, 2012

Article of Incorporation: "Monsters, Inc." (2001)

John Goodman, fast becoming to animation what Hugh Hefner is to naked women, plays Sully, a giant green and blue monster who pops into children's rooms in the night to scare the screams out of them. The energy from these screams powers the city Sully and his friend Mike, voiced by Billy Crystal, live.

This simple set up is upset when a child from one of the rooms crosses over into the monsters' land. The monsters are terrified of the little toddler, a babbling baby girl nicknamed Boo. She calls Sully "Kitty." The villain, and isn't there always one?, is Randall, voiced by the slimy sounding Steve Buscemi. Randall is trying out a new experiment that will extract the energy from children without having to result to scares, bringing about the end of Sully, Randall's main rival. As Mike and Sully battle against Randall to return Boo to her rightful home, they must also fight against a former ally in the company who decides to try to stop them.

I liked this film better than the overrated "Shrek." Billy Crystal is great as the one eyed Mike, without resorting to his stand up routine to pad out the film, a la Robin Williams in "Aladdin," and most of the "Shrek" cast. Goodman is a joy to watch in live action films, and has a great voice for animation. His Sully is the main character here, and he carries the film. The story itself is fast moving enough for the kiddies, but has enough laughs to keep the parents occupied.

My main complaints: one scene involves Mike and Sully banished to the Himalayas, where they meet the Abominable Snowman. The blizzard scene is a triumph in computer animation, as is the climactic door chase scene, but I thought the whole thing was a little unnecessary. The scene slowed the film down, and bored every child in the theater I saw it in. Another complaint is the awful song by Randy Newman, he of the two dozen Oscar nominations and now one win. Time and again, film makers return to him, he regurgitates the same song he has been writing for twenty years, and is dragged out on award shows to warble.

Those complaints aside, "Monsters, Inc." is a fun film that runs circles around the more financially successful "Shrek." I highly recommend it. (* * * * *) out of five stars.