Every now and again, inspiration strikes in a way that, upon reflection, is truly brilliant. The idea of monsters that hide in the closet and creep out at night being real, and having a reason to come through those doors, is one of those genius thoughts, and in this case one which was pursued. The result is Monsters Inc., which is a brilliant animated film that is suitable for children and adults alike, as it is charming, interesting, and very funny.
The film follows James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, two normal-sounding characters who are monsters working at a large industrial unit where, through some kind of teleporting doors system, they are able to go into children’s bedrooms and scare them. Sullivan is the scarer, Wazowski his assistant who handles admin and logistics. The city where they live is powered by screams, hence the necessity to collect them. Sullivan is the top scarer in the company, but takes his job seriously as—according to Health & Safety—children are poisonous and one touch could kill. When a child ends up coming through a door the other way, Sullivan and Wazowski need to try and return her home.
Sullivan is voiced brilliantly by John Goodman, whose big round voice is perfect for a giant furry monster who is light on his heavy feet. Billy Crystal plays Wazowski, a one-eyed green creature with spindly limbs who gets the best lines. Crystal really showcases his comic timing, but there are also plenty of visual gags, including one with a single giant contact lens. Steve Buscemi is suitably creepy as Randall, Sullivan’s main rival, and James Coburn brings a grandfatherly nature to the company owner, laced with a thread of old-money entitlement which is included beautifully. Notable other cast members are Jennifer Tilly, John Ratzenberger, and Frank Oz.
Monsters Inc. is well worth seeing and hugely enjoyable. There is nothing wrong with it, no bad parts, no way it could be let down at all, which is an incredible achievement. The animation still stands up, the pacing is perfect, and the comedy consistently creative. It is a great film.