Monsters, Inc. (G)

Comedy 92 December 19, 2012
By Rob Nelson
Owing, perhaps, to director Pete Docter's own childhood in Minnesota, this kiddie-oriented, computer-animated adventure is an unusually Nice piece of work by Disney standards. Indeed, following a pair of big-business monsters who put aside the usual scare tactics after meeting one of their young victims in the flesh, the movie reads pretty clearly--even to kids, I'd imagine--as an allegory of the child-entertainment industry's duty to enlighten rather than frighten. And yeah: It's fun, too. Docter's playfully conceived stand-in for Disney is Monstropolis, a booming "company town" where the likes of Sulley (the furry guy, voiced by John Goodman) and Mike (the one-eyed guy, voiced by Billy Crystal) work at scaring human kids--whose bedroom closets are easily accessible from the monster world, you see--and collecting their screams for energy to power the city. Adding to the movie's gentle vibe is the notion that children such as Boo--who accidentally follows her would-be frighteners back to Monstropolis--are actually scarier to monsters than the other way around. (See, kids? Those evil spirits under your bed are really corporate slaves!) Alas, the film's highly admirable desire not to disturb extends to a palette of pale pastels that would seem better suited to Saturday-morning fare than a state-of-the-art animated feature, and to the limiting of all-out action to just one scene (a conveyor-belt cliffhanger that'll make a wild ride at Disneyland in about two years). Still, the movie's lessons about the uselessness of fear, the virtue of equality between buddies (no Shrek-style racial hierarchy here), the value of alternative energy, and the power of loving others are plenty rare--and, especially these days, well worth incorporating. (Rob Nelson)
Pete Docter Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Mary Gibbs Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson Darla K Anderson Buena Vista Distribution Compa