Monsters Inc. (2001)

Directed by Peter Doctor & David Silverman

The usual caveat: movies like this aren’t meant for me, so keep this in mind when I tell you that, for me, Monsters Inc. is an entertaining but largely forgettable film.

I suppose I shouldn’t say forgettable. The movie is outstanding from a technical point of view. Some of the things they’ve achieved in terms of animation (like the character Sully’s fur) are quite astonishing.

But for me, it’s the story that falls flat. The essential idea is great: monsters who are terrified of the children they are meant to scare. A child wanders into the monster world and creates chaos, terrorizing the monsters by her sheer giggly presence.

But the movie is just way too cute for its own good. While it will have appeal taking this approach, for a larger audience I think it won’t engage quite the way it could. Monsters Inc. will inevitably be compared with Shrek, and it won’t compare well. Shrek also has a certain cuteness to it, but it also has some edge too which extends its appeal.

And I don’t think it’s because the latter (Shrek) takes a more adult approach. I think it’s because Monsters Inc. has so limited itself by a need to be liked. It’s like coffee with way too much sugar.

I think one of the indicators of how constrained the approach makes the film is the short animation included on the DVD, Mike’s New Car. This short film is so much better than the film, possibly because it is short. It’s much more slapstick and there is no time for the sentimental elements that hobbled the feature.

Children will certainly love the film. But I wonder if they won’t grow out of it very quickly. Maybe; maybe not. I don’t know. I just know I found it a little too sweet for my taste.

With the DVD, there are tons of extras (many of which are shamelessly promotional). If you like the film, you’ll probably enjoy them. But not having much enthusiasm for the movie, I found it difficult to generate any desire to go through them. .

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