Monsters, Inc. is a computer animated motion picture produced by a collaboration between Disney and Pixar, theatrically released in the United States on November 2, 2001. It is the fourth such collaboration, following the films Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Toy Story 2. It was directed by a team of people based on a script written by Dan Gerson and Andrew Stanton, and was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.
The film continues the visual style demonstrated in the earlier Disney/Pixar films with the same progressive improvement in computer animation that each film has shown. In this film, distinctive improvements are noticeable in the texturing and the movement of the characters, especially in the two main characters, Mike and Sulley. The technological improvements of computer animation continue to impress me.
Without giving away too much, the plot of the story is as follows. James P. Sullivan, known throughout the film as Sulley (and voiced by John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (voiced wonderfully by Billy Crystal) live in Monstropolis and are employees of Monsters Inc. Monsters Inc. is the utility company of Monstropolis that generates energy from the terrified screams of children. The employees of Monsters Inc. enter children's closets, sneak into their rooms, and scare them silly, storing the screams in storage containers for later use in generating power for Monstropolis. Sulley is the top "scream generator" at Monsters, Inc. (meaning he's the best at frightening children). One day, he accidentally lets a little girl into Monstropolis, and since monsters are actually very afraid of children, pandemonium ensues.
This film is definitely up to the high standard of the Disney/Pixar collaborations of the past. Although this movie probably isn't appropriate for very small children (my three year old niece would have been scared to death by a few of the scenes, especially one in which Sulley roars in the simulation room), it is a very enjoyable film for pretty much anyone over the age of six. The film excels in every aspect: good story, very good animation, great voice acting, and a lot of humor on a variety of levels. The story itself touches on issues of corporate corruption, the nature of friendship, and unreasoned fear; it actually tells a good story with a solid message, which is far better than some of the purely inane films that have come out recently (Freddy Got Fingered and Saving Silverman come to mind).
The real reason to go, though, is the laughs, and I think this is the funniest Disney/Pixar film to date. It opens with an animated short, For The Birds, that is unquestionably the best short Pixar has done to date; truly hilarious stuff. The film itself is loaded with all sorts of slapstick, visual humor, and parodies, and one can of course play the ol' "spot the Toy Story references" game, of which I spotted at least three (Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Jessie the Cowgirl are all in there, and probably more that I missed). I thoroughly enjoyed myself and laughed more than I have in months; it was a great release for me and probably for others in the theatre. The film was good enough that it received applause from the crowd at the end when I viewed it in the theater, a very rare thing in a movie theater.
Also worth noting are the superb voice acting performances of some of the supporting players. James Coburn as the corporate head, Jennifer Tilly as Celia (Mike's girlfriend), Mary Gibbs as Boo (the girl that got into Monstropolis), the always-good Steve Buscemi as Randall Boggs (the villain, if there was one), and John Ratzenberger as the Abominable Snowman were all fantastic in this, and their high-quality voice acting really made the whole thing click, at least for me.
I have no real complaints about this film in any way, which is a sure sign that I thoroughly enjoyed myself at it. For me personally, it goes onto my short list of "best films of 2001" alongside Moulin Rouge and Shrek, and is definitely one of the bright spots in a bleak year both for films and for America. It is significantly better (in my eyes) than Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life and perhaps as good as the original Toy Story. If you enjoyed the earlier Pixar films at all and are looking for a good time and a good laugh, this is definitely worth seeing.