The key to Pixar’s success isn’t the animation, the voices or even the comedy – it’s the original storytelling. The best of Pixar has the most original stories, creating whole worlds that most people couldn’t come close to imagining. They then have a gift of placing characters in those environments that are likeable, entertaining and capture the excitement and enthusiasm of anyone that watches them.
Monster’s Inc. is an example of Pixar’s magic touch. Monstropolis, where the characters live, is a whole, developed and intriguing world. The walk the characters make to work at the beginning gives us the smallest but clearly detailed look into the everyday lives of the monsters and we get a fantastic idea of how this world works. You can imagine many more stories and adventures occurring beyond that of Mike and Sully.
Pixar have always had a gift at creating characters and the pairing of Mike and Sully are brilliant. Mike is neurotic, self-obsessed but caring enough to be likeable while Sully is the cuddly beast with a heart of gold. They drive the film and you want them to succeed, feeling their anxiety, pain, fear and relief. That is quite an achievement considering one is a huge, hairy, ugly bear and the other is a one-eyed green ball with legs.
The voices of the creatures do help their appeal. Billy Crystal and John Goodman were perfect choices (as are most of Pixar’s casting) and they effectively bring the characters alive. In fact, it doesn’t just stop there, with Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly and James Coburn all offering ample support and helping to bring the many different monsters to life.
Up until 2001, Monsters Inc was certainly the most diverse and ambitious of Pixar’s movies when it came to variety and development of background. There is so much going on in each scene, with many different styles, types and designs of monsters, each with their own abilities and quirks that help them scare children. It is certainly worth many views as there is so much to see beyond the story that is developing throughout.
Which is the true magic of Pixar, the story is a great one. The idea of scares powering a city and a small child scaring a world of monsters is a great one. It leads to fantastic situations, a story full of twists, turns and action sequences that are brilliantly imagined, particularly for the time the film was created. One sequence, involving travelling on and through many different doors, is both exciting and very cool to watch, showcasing the animating talents of the studio.
It is a complete story, with no loose-ends. As much as I love the way Pixar creates these amazing worlds, full of brilliant characters, a sequel or prequel does worry me. Toy Story is an example of Pixar’s ability to develop their characters and stories further, but Cars is also an example of how it can often feel like “cashing-in.” I just hope Monsters University is an example of the first and not the second.
Overall, Monsters Inc. is a great example of what Pixar do best. Great characters, a fantastically realised world and an entertaining, funny and exciting story. They have great voice talents, bringing the immersive world together and helping to create characters we care about. I just hope they don’t taint this great movie with an inferior sequel.
Rating – 4.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)