Earlier this year, a new category was introduced at the Academy Awards, and although
“Shrek” took home the award for Best Animated Feature Film, there was another film
that could just have easily grabbed Oscar gold. Now out on DVD, the Disney/Pixar
release “Monsters, Inc.” features astounding graphics, loads of bonus extras, and of
course the endearing animated adventure film itself. The film has been such a smash
success that it recently became the best selling DVD of all time. In a mere four weeks, it
surpassed the previous record set by (ironically) “Shrek,” selling 9.2 million copies
compared to 9 million for the green ogre.
Whereas “Toy Story” crafted a remarkably intelligent and witty story under the guise of a
similarly inspired adventure tale, “Monsters, Inc.” leaves behind some of the dialogue
and brings together a hide-and-seek account of corporate greed, filled with twists and
turns, leading up to an action-packed finale.
This may not sound like your average Disney cartoon, but the latest line of digitally
animated films have long since transcended that genre. Appealing to kids and adults
alike, the movie’s creatively simple story is its driving force. In Monstropolis, a parallel
monster world, monsters Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan
(John Goodman) work at the titular scare factory, harvesting energy from frightened
children’s screams by coming out of their closets. This is not an easy job though, as the
monsters are told that children are toxic and that direct contact with them would be
All is well until Sulley, the company’s top “scarer,” and one-eyed Mike, his scare
assistant and best friend, come across a scandal that could bring down the entire
corporation. To boot, a little girl penetrates Monstropolis, wreaking havoc on the
company and turning the monster world upside down. Everything is executed with
remarkable precision, from the conceptually inventive door process to the climactic
chase-scene. Particularly impressive is the visually meticulous animation of Sulley’s fur,
especially in one scene where he lies facedown in the snow as the wind blows his 3
million hairs with exceptional sharpness and detail.
The movie’s funny gags, clever jokes and stunning visuals spill over into the DVD extras,
which go above and beyond today’s standard DVD inclusions. In addition to the usual
filmmakers’ audio commentary, outtakes and deleted scenes, the two-disc set contains an
exclusive sneak peek at “Finding Nemo,” Disney/Pixar’s planned summer 2003 feature,
“The Monsters, Inc. Company Play,” and “Humans Only”/”Monsters Only” sections that
deal with the film’s production and technical aspects. In addition, there are two animated
short films: “Mike’s New Car,” an all-new short created exclusively for the DVD and the
Oscar-winning Pixar short “For The Birds,” which also played before “Monsters, Inc.” in
theaters. Overall, there is enough material here to last until next Hanukah.
“Monsters, Inc.” is a film that’s as visually impressive and inventive as any of the
studio’s prior efforts, and while it doesn’t match the fun and wit of “Toy Story,” it’s still
sure to make kids run and check their closets and make everyone else smilingly
remember the times when they did the same.