Monsters show softer side

Finding monsters under the beds and in the closets of frightened, easily influenced children may take on new proportions after the release of the newest Disney film, Monsters, Inc.

By the makers of Toy Story, the adventurous tale of two corporate monsters Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) is set in the most lucrative scream-processing factory in Monstropolis. Their factory specializes in converting human screams (specifically those of children) to energy for the monster world by methodically entering closet doors and extracting the loudest scream possible.

Working under the motto “We Scare Because We Care,” the employees of Monsters, Inc spend every day staring into the face of danger. But for these supposedly fearsome creatures danger comes in the form of a child. There is nothing considered more dangerous in Monstropolis than coming in contact with a human child.

Conflict comes after Sully, the top “kid scarer,” accidentally releases a small girl into his world and must prevent the monsters and his rival scarer and expert chameleon, Randall, from detecting her presence. As expected, the tough, frightening monster soon becomes attached to the child, known as Boo, and goes to extremes to protect her innocence.

This sophisticated and intelligent Disney creation is laced with humor that appeals to both children and adults and allows for an hour and a half of pure silliness. The witty, underlying sarcasm and irony of the one-eyed, mischievous green monster Mike is accompanied by the sweet and mellow Sully while they are surrounded by quick character sketches of the most bizarrely disfigured monsters imaginable.

By far the most outstanding character in Monsters, Inc. is not a huge, purple, scaly monster, but the toddler, Boo. The incredibly endearing portrayal of an undaunted and joyful child adds a special element of innocence that would be almost impossible to recreate with the real expressions of an actual child.

The original plot develops a new element for Disney while incorporating more traditional characteristics such as the jazzy, buoyant music and a few other easily identifiable marketing strategies sure to be seen in product tie-in campaigns.

Critics may find fault with the generic production techniques used in Monsters, Inc., but as one critic, a three-year-old boy who sat in on the screening, commented, “Daddy, Monsters Inc. is so funny.” His father was laughing too hard to respond.

Monsters, Inc. is in theaters now.

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