Monsters Inc.
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Unlike many of my friends, I don't run to the theatre to catch the latest animated Disney ``classic'' that rolls off the assembly line.  It isn't clear that most of my friends to would rush out to see these films either except for one small difference between their lives and mine. They have young children.  The bottom line is that I still haven't seen Toy Story 2 or Atlantis: The Lost Empire.  The only other animated movie I've seen this year is Shrek.  The other problem is that I don't get feedback from people who view the 80's as ancient history and barely remember the 90's.  I should probably rent a kid from the circus before I see these movies.  Anyway, it so happened that I saw my second animated feature of the year one night last week when Claudia and I decided to see something that would be light entertainment without all the usual explosions, car chases, sex, and violence.  What we got was Monsters Inc.  This film is produced by Pixar which brought us the Toy Story movies and this is their first film not directed by John Lasseter.  Pixar started out as competition for Disney by using the latest in CGI (Computer Graphic Imaging) techniques. Of course, business being what it is, Pixar is now owned by Disney.  OK, I've avoided talking about Monsters Inc. as long as I can.  This is the story of a world populated by monsters who get the energy to power their city by bottling children's screams. The monsters are employed by the power company (Monsters Inc.) to spend each night appearing suddenly from kids' closets and scaring the beegeezus out of them.  As the film begins, the monster world is suffering from an energy shortage and more screams are needed.  Enter our heroes, Sully (voiced by John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal).  Sully is the best scream inducer in the company and Mike acts as his ground crew, getting him ready for each closet sortie.  This brings me to the best part of this film.  The factory where Sully and Mike work is a huge warehouse containing every child's closet door.  These doors are installed one by one and they act as doorways from the monster world into the real world through which Sully passes into the children's bedrooms.  This isn't a new idea.  It was invented by C. S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Anything from the real world, even a sock, is considered to be toxic and the monsters have to be decontaminated if they inadvertently bring something back.  So it is that Sully returns from a scaring mission only to find that a little girl has hitched a ride back to the monster world.  Sully and Mike are horrified at first, but since this is a heart-warming family film, they begin to love the little tyke.  Now, they must find a way to get her back to her room without the other monsters finding out, particularly Sully's evil competitor, Randall (Steve Buscemi).  What follows is the most entertaining part of the film, not a car chase but a door chase, where Sully and Mike chase Randall in and out of closet doors back and forth from the real world to the monster world.  The main reason I go to Pixar films is to check out the animation and in Monsters Inc., their new innovation is hair.  Sully is covered in long hair which looks kinda realistic and even blows in the wind.  I think Monsters Inc. is a very entertaining film for the under-10 crowd.  For adults in the audience, the film has some good bits but on the whole it doesn't have much to offer.  The script is very straight forward and doesn't have any of the layered meanings that make Shrek or Rocky and Bullwinkle  more interesting for older viewers. Monsters Inc. is only 90 minutes long but they are long minutes.  This isn't my cup of tea but if you've got kids or you just love animation then it's worth a look.