REVIEW: Monsters Inc (2001)

This year, after 12 years away, we’re going to be transported back to the Monster Universe to explore the world of the University of Fear, where Scully and Mike first met and were less than friends. Pixar have been doing well in the last couple of years with the success of Toy Story 3 and most recently Brave, and it looks that Monster University is set to continue the trend. With less than a year to go until this much anticipated prequel, it’s about time to take a look back at the original.


In 2001, Pixar released their fourth feature film Monsters Inc and we were introduced to Monstropolis, the home to thousands of monsters. The city is run on the power of harvested screams, courtesy of Monsters Inc., and top scarer Sully (John Goodman) and his one-eyed assistant Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). When they are followed into the monster world by an unafraid two-year old, Boo (Mary Gibbs), they must return her to her world before the evil Randall (Steve Buscemi) gets his hands on her and they get exiled.

Eleven years on, Monsters Inc has not lost any of its charm. It’s still a beautiful piece of CGI animation that hasn’t aged in the slightest. Of course animation techniques have advanced over the years, but it still looks as impressive as ever. Everything from the fruit in the Boo’s drawings to each of the 2.3 million hairs on Scully’s back is impeccably animated, and is a thing of pure beauty. 

The voicing talent isn’t exactly something to be ignored either. Goodman and Crystal voice the bickering best friends and they clearly enjoyed recording for the characters, with them often recording in the same room, an unusual move for an animated film. Steve Buscemi lends his vocal talents to the evil Randall but it is Mary Gibbs – who was five at the time of recording – who steals the show. Her adorable voice gets you “awww”-ing at every word she says, especially at her attempt to say “Mike Wazowski”.

Pixar, as usual, has its series of in-jokes from its nod to the forerunner of stop animation Ray Harryhausen – the restaurant Mike and Celia visit on their date is called Harryhausen’s – to the “grossery” store selling Mangle Fruit, Bilge Berries and Blood Oranges . Keep an eye out for familiar characters of Nemo (Finding Nemo), Jessie (Toy Story 2) and the usual Pixar regulars – the Pizza Planet truck, A113 and their lucky charm in the form of John Ratzenberger, voicing the Abominable Snowman.

For a film that could have resulted in parents having to check their children’s closets for monsters each night, instead gets children wanting to meet their specially selected monster. Pixar even keeps you entertained until the very end, with a special rendition of Mike and Scully’s play “Put That Thing Back Where It Came From, Or So Help Me” and bloopers running through the credits.

I defy any child, or adult alike, not to find a special place in their hearts for the lovable, if not slightly weird – “All right, Mr. Bile, is it?” “Uh, my friends call me Phlem.” – monsters. After becoming one of the highest grossing animations of all time, there is no doubt that the sequel, will over take it, but will it top Toy Story 3 for the top spot? With gangs of 20 year old’s heading up the queue, there is a very high chance that Monsters University will surpass it.

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