We have some rather grim movies and games ahead of us during the final week of The Witching Hour so tonight we are going to take it easy with some lighter fare. Made by Pixar and released in the early aughts, Monsters Inc. features the voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal as the (seemingly) beastly Sulley and his diminutive friend, Mike Wazowski. . The film explores an ancient childhood mystery – are there monsters in my bedroom closet? The answer -according to the movie – is definitely yes. In fact, those monsters are paid to be there. As is often the case when we look at older films, expect spoilers.
The monsters live on a parallel world, you see. One of the larger cities – Monstropolis – is going through an energy crisis. The monsters who live here do not get their energy from fossil fuels though. Their energy is derived from the screams of human children. They have giant corporations who collect this scream energy by sending monsters into children’s bedrooms and scaring the wits out of them. Sulley is the top scarer over at Monsters Inc. and Mike works alongside him as an assistant.
The monsters access children’s bedrooms through something akin to a portal. A replica of a child’s door is placed at every workstation and when the door is powered a monster can simply step through to the human world. It is thought to be dangerous work as the monsters believe human children are extremely toxic to even touch.
This setup has served the citizens of Monstropolis well for decades but there is a problem now. Human children are just too savvy nowadays and are becoming increasingly more difficult to frighten. When a monster encounters a child that is not frightened by the encounter the portal to that door is permanently destroyed.
After breaking a company record for scaring children, Sulley goes back to his work station to do a favor for Mike and finds a solitary door placed at a workstation. Thinking one of his coworkers must be scaring a child, Sulley opens the door and inadvertently brings a human toddler into the monster world.
The little girl is actually very playful and refers to Sulley as “Kitty”. For his part, Sulley is terrified of the toxic beast at first and tries to get her back into her own world. When that fails he dumps her in a bag and seeks out Mike’s help. When Boo escapes and hilariously causes panic at a restaurant the duo have no choice but to take her to Mike’s apartment and figure out what to do with her. Amusingly, Sulley and Mike treat the little girl (who Sulley eventually names Boo) like a stray dog. Sulley eventually figures out that humans are not toxic and slowly begins to bond with her.
It turns out that Sulley’s biggest rival – a reptillian monster named Randall – attempted to abduct Boo in order to test a new method of extracting screams from children. Having grown of the child, Sulley is determined to help her get back to her own world.
As usual for Pixar films of that time, Monsters Inc. blends humor with some touching character moments. You really get a sense that Sulley and Mike are true friends who pull each other through the toughest of time. More poignantly, Sulley’s bond with Boo transcends worlds and possibly time. You could argue that their relationship symbolizes people of diverse backgrounds being able to form bonds. The story touches on fear and conquering that which frightens you.
While it is not specifically a Halloween film, Monsters Inc. is funny and weird enough to delight younger viewers and like many Pixar films is deep enough to keep adults entertained. If you need a family friendly movie to watch this month then you won’t go wrong with this one.