Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Pixar Project: Monsters Inc.

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the internet's leading provider of snow cones. I'm Dave-El and I blog because I clog. 

Yeah, I have no idea what that means. 

Hey, Randie, you want to write this thing again? 

OK, I guess it's up to me then. 

Today's post is installment #4 of series I call The Pixar Project. The El family is on a mission to watch Pixar's animated features in chronological order.  So far, we've watched...

Today we move on the next Pixar movie, Monster's Inc. 



Pixar expands into some major world building here, establishing a society of monsters, a civilization of scary creatures that haunt our dreams. Here in their own world, these monsters are just schmucks trying to make a living.  

Our focus is on a pair of pals, big blue furball James P. Sullivan, AKA Sulley and one eyed green guy Mike Wazowski, AKA Mike Wazowski. They work for Henry J Waternoose at Monsters Inc which converts the screams of terrified children in the human world to energy to power the monster world. It's not an easy job; kids are harder to scare these days as the window of innocence shrinks. Plus human children are toxic to monsters. So imagine Sulley and Mike's horror when they find themselves in possession of a human child.  It seems that fellow Monsters Inc. employee Randall Boggs, a slithering lizard monsters with chameleon powers is up to no good and Boo is caught up in it. 

Boo? Boo who? Don't cry, it's just a blog post. Ha! 


Ha?


No?


OK, moving on. 

Sulley has named the child Boo who has a propensity of disappearing and reappearing to Sulley's endless consternation. Sulley is also coming to the conclusion that Boo is not the terrible danger to monsterkind that he and other monsters had been led to believe. Another weird thing? Boo has a tendency to overload power when she laughs. What's up with that? 

Sulley and Mike take the child to Mr. Waternoose who rewards them for their honesty...by banishing them from the monster world. Uh oh! Waternoose is in cahoots with Randall! 

Sulley and Mike get back to the monster world and expose Waternoose and Randall. But at what cost? Monsters Inc is no more. And without screams to provide energy, what will become of the monsters and their society? Except Sulley and Mike have realized that the laughter of children produces even more energy than their screams. And Monsters Inc is saved as it moves from scare floor to laugh factory.

Monster's Inc represents an ambitious move forward for Pixar. As opposed to the archetype toys of Toy Story or entymology providing guidance to A Bug's Life, the world of Monster's Inc has to be built completely from the ground up. Not just the fantastic designs of bizarre creatures but the specific logic of how such a world would work needs to be developed from scratch.   

One of the challenges for the filmmakers is Sulley's fur but they pull it off, creating a texture that looks soft and cuddly. No wonder Boo calls Sulley "Kitty".  

Although they're monsters, we have in Sulley and Mike very recognizable adult characters taking the lead. They live on their own and have jobs. Mike's going on a date.  John Goodman and Billy Crystal make a great pair as the voices of Sulley and Mike, creating a dynamic relationship on par with Woody and Buzz from the Toy Story movies.  


For all the humor and action sequences that propel the movie along, at the heart of Monster's Inc is, well, heart. Sulley's growing attachment to Boo is sweet and tender and oh so heartbreaking when Sulley has to say goodbye to Boo. Once more, Pixar is not afraid to go headlong into intensely emotional scenes: Boo being frightened of Sulley after his scare demonstration; Mike and Sulley in exile and at odds with each other; Sulley says goodbye to Boo and Boo opens the closet door just to find...a closet. And that last bit at the end? Sulley goes through a familiar door thought completely destroyed and hears a familiar voice: "Kitty!" 


But if Monsters Inc has heart, the producers keep that heart pumping with a high level of energy and imagination.  Even from the the opening titles which aredone with a stylized art similar to that used for titles in films from the late 1950s to the 1960s, particularly Blake Edwards, Pink Panther series. Randy Newman was back for another go-round as the composer. Newman's music evoked a combination of 1950s movie music and jazz; it's a very kinetic soundtrack and fits the tone and the energy of the film. 

Monsters Inc was initially released with a short film call For the Birds and the DVD included a Monster's Inc featurette called Mike's New Car. We did not watch either of those this weekend as the DVD stuffed all the bonus features on a 2nd disc and we were just too lazy to switch the discs. And its because of stuff like that, everything is all digital these days. 

All in all, Monsters Inc marks a step forward in Pixar's evolution. Pixar continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in animation even while holding true to the basic core that a good movie require a solid stories and characters we care about. Monsters Inc remains one of our family's more enoyable movies from Disney and Pixar. 

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Coming up in the next Pixar Project, Finding Nemo. And just in time for its sequel, Finding Dory, which is coming to theaters this weekend. Maybe next week I will have posts on both of them. 

In the meantime, there's a new post coming up tomorrow. Until next time, remember to be good to one another.

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