It’s almost hard to believe the first decade of this new millennium is almost over, but that just means we get to start debating what were the best films of this young century and why we think so. Over the next six months we will have a series of essays of my reflection and discussion on what made these films great to me and why I would love for you readers to seek them out. So sit back, take a gander, and let me know what you think. Agree, disagree, call me an idiot, but let me know in the comments why you loved it, hated it, or thought these films were just ok. So without further ado lets take a look at the decade’s best…
Pete Docter’s – Monster’s, Inc. (2001)
Pete Docter’s Pixar debut was a heartfelt and hilarious look into the world of monsters and what they do on the other side of our closet doors.
Sully, a tall and furry blue monster, is the leading scarer at Monsters Inc., a company that harvests children’s screams to power the monster world’s electrical supply. Sully’s door operator is a fast talking eyeball named Mike and he enjoys Sully’s success and celebrity more than the lead scarer does. Monsters Inc. has been noticing a drop in scare production recently on their scare floor and it isn’t do to a lack of trying by their scarers. Kids simply aren’t that scared any more and they are finding that they are having to retire more and more doors to the shredder every week that have gone dry of scares.
Just as Sully is about to break the all-time scare record, his nemesis Randall loads a door to try and get some after hour scares, only Sully comes across it trying to return some paper work and takes a peek inside to find nothing. When Randall comes back with his scream canister, he finds the room empty as well and retires for the night from mischievous activities. Sully’s fear of getting caught by Randall catching him in the act isn’t even his biggest problem. As a child, Boo, which are apparently toxic to the monster world has escaped through the door which has been sent back into the factory. Sully, who is stuck with the child, upon detection of contamination will be quarantined seeks out the help of Mike and while they try to find a way to put Boo back in her door discover an even sinister plot at Monster Inc. beyond Randall’s action.
Docter and company at Pixar successfully created a world that we can believe monsters troll around in and seemed to have a lot of fun creating some unique and fun monsters to inhabit their world. Filled with plenty of nods and winks there is more originality at play in this foreign world. From the factory system for the doors, the ideas that scares fuel the monsters world, or even the fact that all monsters don’t start as hardened scarers and can even be scared themselves at all ages. The comedy is also broad age wise with something for the kids and adults alike. Be it sight gags, character driven humor, or well written jokes the humor always works and never really let’s up.
The film is actually quite scary at times and it kind of surprises me that kids connect with it as well as they do with some of the images they throw at us here. In fact, it was rather risky I feel for Pixar to bank on a monsters story that would win the hearts of kids everywhere, but the main characters are so easy to love and get behind I think that over powers any fear in the end.
Sully our main hero is as nice as a guy you can get and leaves any sense of terror he instills in his job, at his job. At home he is a light hearted and easy going monster that works hard to be the best at his job everyday, and John Goodman’s laid back and calm demeanor suit him perfectly. Mike on the other hand is a wound up and klutzy spaz of sorts that is as neurotic as he is loud mouthed. Never shutting up, Billy Crystal brings Mike to life and is one of the more endearing characters Pixar has made so far. Props also need to go out to Pixar for creating such an adorable and loveable character in Boo with little more than her eyes to tell us how she feels. Her brief dialogue and noises are played for laughs more than anything, but they tell us so much through her eyes. Steve Buscemi is also great as the sleazy and vile Randall and he creates a character that fits the monster just right.
In the end, Monsters Inc. is a fine effort by Pixar that is on par with their second tier efforts. And if that isn’t saying something about Pixar in that their second tier stuff is still some of the best stuff of the decade I don’t know how to better laude the studio. Funny and adorable and punctuated with a jaw dropping final chase through the door warehouse that takes us everywhere in the world and racing at blazing speeds along the door lines. Also ending on a near perfect note and never dragging from start to finish you can’t really find a whole lot to complain about and helped firmly plant Pixar as the finest studio working today, both animated and live action, period.