At this point we all know the “Monsters, Inc.” story. Bachelor monster is at the top of his game but still feels empty inside; meets little girl of another species; suddenly finds fulfillment as a parent. In 3-D it’s no less affecting, and is the first 3-D movie I’ve seen this year that actually looks and feels like it belongs in 3-D. I find this ironic, as many movies that were filmed specifically for 3-D look flat in comparison to the converted “Monsters, Inc.”
Sully (John Goodman) is a traditional scarer, getting energy for the city of Monstropolis by scaring children. The ethics of how this works never occurs to Sully (or anyone, really), as human children are considered terrifying, diseased beasts. This of course makes it easier for the “monsters” to do their jobs.
But in reality Boo is an inquisitive little girl who loves her “kitty” (that’d be Sully). She is fearless of the various monsters, except for Randal (Steve Buscemi), a chameleon-like monster who has other plans for extracting screams from kids that’s even less ethical than simply scaring them.
Stumbling into this is Abbot-like sidekick Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), a one-eyed butterball who is in love with his “shmoopsey” Celia (Jennifer Tilly). Unlike Sully, he’s moving on to a relationship — with the possibility of raising a family — and he balances the circumstances of their contact with the world of children against his future with his girlfriend. This is heavy stuff for a show supposedly for kids.
But that’s the point. “Monsters, Inc.” is a show for the man-child in all of us, who secretly suspects he’d like to be a parent but isn’t sure if he’s up for it. When faced with the possibility of Boo coming to harm, Sully tells Mike “none of that matters now.”
It’s hard to understand unless you’re a parent. But it’s true. Once you connect with a child, nothing else matters. “Monsters, Inc.” isn’t content to just entertain children, or stop at a happy ending. It has a higher goal in mind, taking on the question of a civilized society and the ethical sacrifices it must make to be productive. Sully eventually finds a way, but in doing so sacrifices the one thing he loves most.
The last scene, with a monster coming out of the closet not to scare a child but to greet her, is one of the sweetest moments in CGI history.
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