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Monsters Inc.
DVD disk
Oct 6, 2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Monsters Inc. order
Director:
Pete Docter

Actors:
John Goodman
Billy Crystal
Steve Buscemi

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In the world of monsters, the most valuable source of energy is a child's scream. Sulley and Mike are two monsters who work in a scream factory and who sneak out into the human world every night to scare kids out of their wits. But little do we know, the monsters are actually terrified of kids and when one of the makes it back into their world, panic (and all kinds of laughs) ensues.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Some films are made to scare you, some films are made to make you laugh. Some films are made to make you think and others are made for you to just have fun. That last category applies to MONSTERS, INC., Pixar's smash hit animated feature. Through the escapades of Mike and Sulley, the viewer is transported into a fun, colorful and completely warped monster universe where one can find green monsters, red monsters, furry monsters, monsters with tentacles, monsters with beaks and many, many more. Crystal is a perfect pick to play the wisecracking Mike Wazowski, the one-eyed, wisecracking assistant to Sulley (John Goodman), the nicest, scariest monster in town and an icon to scarers everywhere.

What really stole this show as far as I'm concerned though was the adorable little kid voiced by 5-year old Mary Gibbs. Watching this little bundle of joy jump around and make her little baby sounds is reason enough to believe a 7-foot tall fur ball with horns like Sulley could fall for her so quickly. Heck, by the time the film was half an hour old, I sort of felt like scooping her up myself and making her giggle that cute little giggle of hers. Steve Buscemi was also aces as Randall, the evil monster who's trying to cheat his way past Sulley to become the scream record-holder. Other bug names include Jennifer Tilly as Mike's girlfriend Celia and James Coburn as Monsters, Inc. owner and CEO Henry J. Waternoose. Technically, the film is nothing short of brilliant with great animations and colorful characters that will appeal to the young and old alike. Mixed in with some great music and some funny sounds and gas, it's sure to be a blast regardless of your age group and definitely a worthy addition to any collection.
THE EXTRAS
The two-disc collector's edition comes complete with enough bonus material to keep the young busy until they're young no more...

DISC #1

Feature-length commentary by director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, executive producer John Lasseter and executive producer/screenwriter Andrew Stanton: You have to respect these guys for one thing: they treat this like a "real" movie and not like an "animated movie". It gets tiresome once in a while to hear commentaries discussing really technical aspects of making an animated feature but it was quite refreshing to hear this group discuss other key points such as plot, characters, casting, writing, etc. Considering that many more features on the DVD are sure to get in the techie stuff, they chose the right path here. They're also quite lively and the fact that there are several people prevents extreme boredom from setting in.

5.1 Surround Sound effects mix: This was actually a lot cooler than I expected it to be. It's basically an isolated track of sound effects without any voices. You can go through the entire film listening to the "boinks" and "dings" and "pows". It was a bit weird at first but them I sort of hit a groove and watched it for a good little while.

Note: Although the film is offered in both widescreen and full screen, these two features are only available on the widescreen version.

DISC #2

The second disc has two main sections. One is for humans only and the other, for monsters only. There's also a few other sections that included individual features that I'll describe lower. You should note that inside the section archives, everything is subdivided into small featurettes but I haven't separated them in my review since you would have to read for about 6 hours before getting a full picture of what's on there. This is easily one of the most complete and comprehensive DVD's I've ever seen and I hesitated a while on whether I should sign it the dreaded "overkill" label but since it's so well divided and it makes it easy to see only what you want...I backed down. Enjoy.

HUMANS ONLY

Production Tour (20:00): This razzle-dazzle tour of Pixar's new animation studio is all the stuff your dreams are made of when you're a kid. Screaming down corridors on scooters, running around in offices full of toys, playing foosball and pool and playing neat games is all in a day's (very hard) work. This tour, hosted by the filmmakers will guide you through all the main sections which will be covered in detail by the following feature sections. I guess the people play as hard as they work. One note of caution though: if you're already dissatisfied with your current job, stay away from this one because you'll feel about ten times worse. They even have a monkey!

Story (40:00): Seven featurettes are contained in this section and they all revolve around the MONSTERS, INC. storyline. Original treatments, storyboards, outtakes, deleted scenes and concepts and ideas that just didn't make it into the final cut are all present and you can get a really good idea of the work put into a story such as this one. It's especially interesting to listen to the filmmakers discuss it so enthusiastically. This type of film can easily get misdirected and turned into a showcase for animation rather than a movie but they don't let it happen and they don't let it turn into a lazy film made uniquely to feature what cool things they know how to do. Unfortunately, there was no sign of George Lucas there.

Monster files (10:00): This was pretty neat. It began with a short intro by the "monster design" team discussing the approach they used to create the dozens of monsters in the movie. Following that, a very well-made gallery of conceptual art for many of the characters. It's well worth a look only to appreciate the talent of the people who come up with the kind of stuff that makes you say: "How did they come up with that?". I guess that's how.

Design (20:00): It seems like it's so easily done with computers but just like you have people who dress sets on a live-action film, you also need them in animated ones. There's just so much stuff in there you don't think about. This section contains seven smaller sections describing the progression from plain layouts to complete sets. The first one has the added distinction of being hosted by a cute set dresser from Quebec. For the technical junkies out there, it'll be fascinating to watch lighting schemes, rough layouts, colors scripts and a bunch more stuff that's required to make the backgrounds fade into your mind without taking your attention away from the story. Incidentally, the sets looked so good at some points that you had to wonder whether the monsters were really just superimposed on live shots.

Animation (30:00): Another very technical section divided into 6 detailed featurettes regarding, you guessed it, animation. From early tests to some of the particular difficulties encountered making this thing happened, the animators let you in on some of their secrets and show you some of the wild toys they're equipped with to make their imaginations run wild on the big screen. Very cool stuff not only for those who understand how this stuff works (because God knows I don't) but for anyone who can appreciate someone else's special talents.

Music & Sound (9:00): Pretty self-explanatory but it does go into some details on the music and sound effects in the film. One particularly creepy sequence has John Goodman and Billy Crystal using something called "binaural recording" to mess with your mind. Listen to it, you'll know what I mean. I though the two dudes were sitting next to me on the couch.

Release (20:00): This one contains all the promo stuff from the film, including footage from the premiere where little Mary Gibbs charms the pants off everyone. Trailers, toys, posters and all kinds of other goodies are also available to bee seen by everyone and so is a hilarious reel of outtakes that's worth it's weight in gold. Check this section out, you won't regret it!

MONSTERS ONLY

New monster adventures (30:00): After the serious and heavy technical stuff of the humans sections, it's time to kick off your shoes and have a bit of fun in Monstropolis. This section contains a bunch of little things to entertain you with. "Mike's new car", a short animated film is available with optional commentary from some of the filmmakers kids. That was pretty novel and definitely ranked way, way up on the cuteness scale. Music videos and games are also there, including a couple of whacked out Japanese games in which you can play rock, paper, scissors against Sulley in Japanese. Take a look at these and try to convince me after that Japanese people aren't completely nuts. You'll never be able to. You'll never even try.

Behind the screams (10:00): More fun with Sulley and Mike. This is divided into three smaller sections containing outtakes, a description if Mike & Sulley's job as well as a program for a fictitious company play Mike talks about in the movie. It's pretty light stuff but fun to watch nonetheless. The outtakes are really funny.

Orientation (20:00): If you've made it this far, you probably know enough about scream factory for you to be ready to start collecting screams of your own. Divided into 6 smaller segments, this section will guide you through your first day at the factory, explain the history of Monstropolis, introduce you to other employees and more. All you need to become a well-informed monster is here, you can navigate around and get instructed. I had some fun with this.

MORE STUFF

Some "loose" extras that aren't part of the human or monster world are added on to disc #2. Two of them are repeats from the monster world, namely "Mike's new car" and the outtakes but another little nugget is there also: "For the birds", the 2001 Academy Award Winner for best animated short film is available with optional commentary by director Ralph Eggleston. It only clocks in at about 3 minutes and is definitely worth a look. Funny stuff!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Fun film, mind-blowing DVD. All the ingredients add up to make this one a permanent addition to any collection. Don't even bother renting it because you'll just do it over and over again so next time you stop by the video store, rent something else but on your way home, make sure you buy MONSTERS, INC. and watch it over and over and over again until you're no longer scared to look into your closet late at night!
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