Earlier this year, a new category was introduced at the Academy Awards, and although

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Disney
Comedic gold, Mike and Sulley from “Monsters, Inc.”

“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

catastrophic.

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.

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