A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 184 – Monsters Inc.

Monsters Inc. – August 31st, 2010

I’m going to lay this out at the start: I don’t think I have a heck of a lot to say about this movie. Sure, it was cute. It’s a Pixar movie. I think I’ve made my feelings about Pixar rather clear. They make cute movies that tug at heartstrings. It is their bread and butter and they do it incomparably well. Go back and take a look at my Finding Nemo review if you want to know what I have to say about Pixar. They’re great, okay? The thing is, where some of their other movies, such as the Toy Story trilogy and Finding Nemo and certainly Up are all very clearly sending Important Messages About Things Like Growing Up, this one? Not so much. It’s just fun.

Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s funny. I won’t dispute for a moment that watching big scary monsters freak out about a toddler is funny. It is. And I’ve met kids like Boo. I work with kids like Boo. That disappearing trick she does where she’s through the door before you know it? Yeah, that’s a half-hourly occurrence at my workplace, if not more frequent. Don’t for one second think that’s an exaggeration, people. Kids can teleport. I’m sure of it. So yeah, it’s funny. The whole movie is based on the gimmick of monsters both needing to scare kids for their power source (screams being somewhat potent, apparently) but being terrified of them themselves. That’s for laughs. Oh, I’m sure one could try and build parallels between the “scream shortage” in this movie and fuel supplies here in the real world, but let’s face it, beyond it being a joke for adults to laugh at? There’s not much there to connect. It’s all on the surface. It’s for shits and giggles.

The movie is really one long gag. From the start, when we meet Mike and Sully – Monsters Inc.’s top scare team, pulling in more scream-power than anyone else at the company – we’re meant to get the joke. Every monster they pass on the street on the way to work, every comment they make, everything that builds the whole alternate world of monsters, is a joke based on the world we live in. And as soon as a little girl, Boo, makes it into that world? It’s a joke. Even the tension of Sully’s competition, Randall, and his plan to use Boo to end the scream shortage? Well, it’s not that tense. Or it wasn’t for me. Of course Sully and Mike will save the day, right? Right. The chase scene through all the bedroom doors in the factory? Fantastic Escher-esque stuff. But not terribly tense. It’s fun! It’s a joke! For every five seconds of tension there are ten of laughs. The ending is, literally, built out of jokes. Jokes within jokes.

Like I said, it isn’t a bad thing that the movie is in it for the laughs. It succeeds admirably at what it set out to do, which is, I believe, to give both adults and kids something to enjoy. I’m sure most adults who either have kids or have ever been left in charge of one can recognize pretty much everything Boo does, and the monster-in-the-closet thing is pretty pervasive. And for the kids there are funny looking monsters who are scared of humans. There are great voices like John Goodman as Sully, Billy Crystal as Mike, Steve Buscemi as Randall, and Frank Oz as Fungus, to name just a few. The monsters are expressive, the world is well built, the jokes are funny and what’s not to like, right? Right!

Really, when you come down to it, there doesn’t need to be any more tension than there already is. Sure, it’s tempered by laughs and all, but that works for the overall mood of the movie. If it was too scary, it would sort of defeat the point, you know? Really, I’ve got nothing negative to say about it. I’ve just not got anything super deep to say about it either.

August 31, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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