Coming up on the heels of Toy Story 2 and last summer's Shrek, Pixar's Monsters, Inc. had some Godzilla-sized shoes to fill. Not just in terms of the dizzying special effects and vividly realized computer animation, but also in terms of creating a film with enough emotional content for the kids and pop cultural awareness for the adults. I'm pleased to report that Monsters, Inc. delivers.
The premise is simple; monsters go to work just like regular people, except in their case, work means jumping out of little kids' closets to generate screams, which in turn power the city of Monstropolis. The two main monsters are Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman), good friends with a little bit of competitive edge in the fright department. And while they pride themselves on each being some damn fine specimens of scary, they're also terrified of humans, especially little girls who wander into their world from the aforementioned closet portals.
The animation is amazing -- at one point I was so mesmerized by the way animators made Sulley's blue fur ripple in the breeze that I missed some good dialogue. The story, too, is sweet in a way that Shrek (which veered from William Steig's sweet fable into smug self-consciousness) never quite achieved. All in all, this is some great family entertainment, enjoyable with or without the family.