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Monsters, Inc. (2012)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 193
Fresh: 185 | Rotten: 8

Even though Monsters, Inc lacks the sophistication of the Toy Story series, it is a still delight for children of all ages.

90

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 42
Fresh: 38 | Rotten: 4

Even though Monsters, Inc lacks the sophistication of the Toy Story series, it is a still delight for children of all ages.

audience

90

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 1,244,877

My Rating

Movie Info

After exploring the worlds of toys and bugs in the two Toy Story films and A Bug's Life, the award-winning computer animation company Pixar delves into the realm of monsters with its fourth feature. Hulking, blue-furred behemoth James P. "Sully" Sullivan (John Goodman) and his one-eyed assistant Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are employed by Monsters, Inc., a scream processing factory. It seems that the denizens of their realm thrive on the screams of kids spooked by monsters lurking under their

Feb 19, 2013

$34.0M

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All Critics (194) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (185) | Rotten (8) | DVD (46)

It's in the visuals that 'Monsters Inc' comes to life, from the jazzy, Norman McLaren influenced opening to the hilarious, shakycam amateur-dramatic recap over the closing credits.

January 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It may be harder nowadays to dazzle audiences with fancy visual effects, but Monsters, Inc. 3D proves that smart, imaginative storytelling still does the trick every time.

December 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Most of the charm of "Monsters Inc." comes from its vocal cast.

December 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If history is any guide, you and your family - whether young or old - will probably want to see "Monsters University" over and over.

December 18, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie itself stands up well, even from an adult, two-dimensional perspective.

December 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its reassuring message is more relevant than ever.

December 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Remains as wonderful and remarkably charming as it was when it was first released.

June 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

[A] fixedly sweet bedtime story and exercise in imaginative possibility.

June 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

...the movie becomes a giddy, kiddie inversion of time and space.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm
LarsenOnFilm

While nippers will love the colourful creatures and their slapstick antics, grown-ups will find less humour and layers than in the likes of Toy Story, meaning less overall appeal as a result.

January 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Flix Capacitor
Flix Capacitor

[I] really don't see the point of paying extra for children under eight. Their eyes are still developing, their noses are still small for slippery glasses, and... isn't a trip to the pictures enough for them in any case?

January 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Birmingham Mail
Birmingham Mail

If anything, it improves with age.

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Monsters displays wonderful imagination which makes it worth reliving in an extra dimension - particularly the energetic chase scene along a conveyor belt of doors.

January 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

Pixar's soaringly lovely fourth feature ...

January 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

[An] exciting, imaginative and very likable adventure.

January 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Despite its eternal message about physical differences and the importance of love over fear of the unknown, Monsters, Inc primarily remains an ambitious concept film.

January 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

Another chance to see Pixar's most dazzling premise, now spruced up with a third dimension.

January 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Now in 3D, the filmmakers have created a wonderful reality - the reality of Monstropolis, which like the worlds of Oz and Pleasantville, whisk us far, far away on a magic carpet of fantasy

January 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A shrewdly timed reminder of Pixar's early, heady days, when the animation powerhouse could do no wrong.

January 6, 2013 Full Review Source: The Sun Herald
The Sun Herald

This didn't need 3D to work. It long ago passed the kids-wear-out-the-DVD-rewatching-it test.

January 3, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

There's really little reason to check out Monsters, Inc. 3D in... well, 3D, rather than going for a good old-fashioned 2D screening instead.

December 21, 2012 Full Review Source: ScreenRant
ScreenRant

It does well, but not brilliantly: an amusing trifle from a studio whose best work still lay ahead of it.

December 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Mania.com
Mania.com

Not quite a Pixar classic, but funny, witty and visually spectacular enough to be enjoyed again on the big screen.

December 19, 2012 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

Monsters, Inc. continues a positive 3D trend for the company, who appear to be selecting their upgraded titles wisely, choosing features that benefit from the additional depth.

December 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Blu-ray.com
Blu-ray.com

Audience Reviews for Monsters, Inc.

In the aftermath of my lukewarm review of The Incredibles, someone asked me what I would consider the great PIXAR film. I didn't want to give an immediate response without revisiting all the titles I had loved the first time round, before my critical faculties had developed to their current level. But until such a point in time, Monsters, Inc. is a very good candidate, being a truly great children's film with all the hallmarks of what makes PIXAR great.

All the best PIXAR films have a simple but engaging premise, from which an entire world can be constructed. With Toy Story 1 & 2, it was that your toys are alive and will miss you when you're not there. What could just be a gimmick was expanded out into a fascinating, complex and heart-warming story about childhood, jealousy, rejection and the fear of being abandoned. PIXAR have always been very good storytellers, laying the proper foundations of a world in which memorable characters can flourish.

With Monsters, Inc., the premise is equally straightforward: there are monsters in your wardrobe (closet if you will), but they are more afraid of you than you are of them, and they rely on you to function. From this idea is built up the entire system of the factory for harnessing children's screams, the means by which monsters can travel to our world, the hierarchies within the workplace, and the central comic conceit of a child who escapes into the monster world and isn't afraid of Sully or Mike.

Even in this set-up, Monsters, Inc. presents itself as a really great twist on monster stories, giving insight into the nature and purpose of monsters in our childhood and culture. It's a film about children learning to grow up and face their fears: either the monsters simply cease to be scary (as happens early on, when a door is shredded), or the children end up actively laughing at them, which the monsters eventually embrace. The discovery later in the film that laughter is more powerful than scares reinforces this message about standing up to your fears and overcoming them. It also ties in with one of PIXAR's overarching themes, namely coming to terms with the people we love growing up.

There is also a neat little role reversal in the film regarding the choice of monsters. The employees at Monsters, Inc. are assigned to a specific child to extract the most possible scares out of a given subject. Rather than the children creating the monsters, as manifestations of their fears and uncertainties, the monsters are tailored for them in the hope that their fears might manifest themselves. This approach within the fictional universe is complimentary with PIXAR's notions of creativity: their films have broad appeal but they are built around emotions and feelings that children will respond to, rather than asking them to respond to something they know nothing about.

On an entirely different level, Monsters, Inc. is also a film about good business practices. The prosperity of the company is directly in proportion to the quality of life enjoyed by its employees. At the start of the film, everyone is working flat out to avert an energy crisis and the management keep complaining when anyone falls short. They even resort to underhand tactics to achieve their goal, rather than thinking the problem through with their employees at the heart. In contrast, Sully's management decisions, from the new energy source to the brighter colours in the workplace, make dealing with the daily grind a lot more fun.

There are a lot of wonderful touches to the visual world of Monsters, Inc. which reinforce the business angle to it. Mike and Sully's world has a lot of blue-collar qualities, from the helmets to the metal lunchboxes, but unlike The Incredibles, it doesn't feel like these adult characteristics are being forced upon a younger audience. The paperwork conversations are structured much better and take up less time than the insurance conversations in Brad Bird's film: not only are they shorter but they are not an integral part of the story. We get a sense of how Monsters, Inc. works as a company without Pete Docter having to labour over details at the expense of his characters.

While Docter needn't labour in his storytelling, there are a number of nice references to monster movies buried in Monsters, Inc., reinforcing our impression of PIXAR as a thorough team who are passionate and well-researched. The restaurant at which Mike and Celia eat is called Harryhausen's, after Ray Harryhausen, the great stop-motion animator and special effects pioneer. Celia's hair is reminiscent of the Gorgons in the Greek Myths, in which Harryhausen dabbled at the peak of his career. There are also several little nods to other PIXAR works in Sully's last scene with Boo: she hands him a Jesse doll from Toy Story 2, the ball from the PIXAR logo and a clown fish (Finding Nemo was in production at this time).

Even if you don't pick up on all the film's deeper themes or references to other works, Monsters, Inc. is still a great piece of storytelling and a really funny family comedy. While Mike and Sully haven't become quite as indelible as Woody and Buzz, they still make a great double act with believable characterisations and great physicality. John Goodman's lugubrious delivery is beautifully balanced out by Billy Crystal's fast-paced dialogue, and unlike many Dreamworks productions it feels like the famous faces are playing characters rather than just letting loose with their own distinctive shtick.

Alongside the main pairing, there are a number of really good performances in the supporting cast. Jennifer Tilly is very good as Celia, her gravelly voice capturing the harsher side of the character while being suitably smitten with her "googly bear". Steve Buscemi is well-cast as the villainous Randall, with the role playing to the same slippery, scheming quality that he brought to Fargo or Reservoir Dogs. James Coburn, in his final performance, balances the mentor-like role he has to Sully with all the ruthlessness and frustration surrounding his position. Best of all, however, is Mary Gibbs, who is simply adorable as Boo. Gibbs was only two-and-a-half she was cast, and was so restless that the recording staff had to follow her around with a microphone.

Most of the humour in Monsters, Inc. is visual, but it's superbly timed and really quite inventive. The scenes involving the CDA are wonderfully over-the-top, parodying any number of scenes in thrillers where a SWAT team must invade a building and remove a threat. Many of the best gags are throwaways, like the jelly-like monster slipping through the grating in the street, or Randall's multiple colour-changes when Boo is bashing him over the head. There's also some good dry humour between Roz and Mike regarding his paperwork, and when Crystal is required to improvise, it's a lot funnier than his stuff in The Princess Bride.

While Monsters, Inc. isn't primarily an action film, it does have several good set-pieces which will keep children entertained. The door chase sequence is to some extent a one-upping of the luggage chase at the end of Toy Story 2, but it's still executed in a very neat way with good editing. Similarly the scenes with the Abominable Snowman (voiced by Toy Story alumnus John Ratzenberger) results in a decent slice of action with a solid punchline. Neither of these scenes are particularly ground-breaking, but they do punctuate the slower, sadder moments.

Monsters, Inc. is also noteworthy for the visual leaps it made, for CG animation in general and for PIXAR'S aesthetic in particular. The film utilised a new animation programme called Fitz to accurately produce the appearance and movements of Sully's hair, including the correct amounts of shadowing on different parts of his fur. Without these innovations, Docter's subsequent film Up would not have looked half as inviting. Ironically, the title sequence feels like a product of 1960s Disney, being reminiscent of 101 Dalmatians in both its pacing and design.

Monsters, Inc. is a great and funny family comedy which still holds up really well after both 12 years and its recent prequel. While its technical innovations can be marvelled at in hindsight, its real achievements lie in its beautifully crafted story, great characters, memorable performances and the nuanced ideas that these raise together. While it's not quite up to the high standard of Toy Story 2 or Finding Nemo, it remains one of PIXAR's finest achievements.
November 3, 2013
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

After toys and bugs, Pixar came up with this adorable animation that, even if not an instant classic as the company's better works, is a lot of enjoyable fun and a visual treat for all ages - including adults, who will find it just as funny and irresistible.
July 17, 2013
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

"Monsters Inc." is the type of film that no matter how old you are, the kid deep down inside you will love it. It's not just one of Pixar's best films yet, but one of the best kids films out there to date. It's fun, educational, kind of thrilling in a way, and will have you crying and smiling throughout, due to cuteness and relatability. The animators of this film take everything into account, making this look gorgeous inside and out, down to the very last hair on the Monster's bodies. The story of Monster's working to be what Monster's are known to us humans to be in a fairytale is quite amusing. It's written perfectly with just the right number of jokes and subtle moments, and the screen time of everyone is timed perfectly. I love every second of "Monster's Inc." It's definitely one of the best animated films out there!
June 27, 2013
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

'Monster's Inc.' is as fresh and exciting today as it was when it was first released, with exceptional character development and an engaging story. With pathos and laughs, this great animated film draws us in and keeps us there throughout.
June 24, 2013
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

    1. James P. Sullivan "Sully": She can't stay in here. This is the men's room.
    2. Mike Wazowski: That is the weirdest thing you've ever said.
    – Submitted by Redwan A (7 months ago)
    1. Randall Boggs: If I don't see a door in my station in 5 seconds I will personally put you through the shredder!
    2. Fungus: Ahhhhhhh!
    – Submitted by Christopher S (7 months ago)
    1. Mike Wazowski: What can I say? The camera loves me!
    – Submitted by Rachael R (13 months ago)
    1. James P. Sullivan "Sully": You know, I don't think she's all that dangerous.
    2. Mike Wazowski: Yeah, we can keep her. I've always wanted a pet that could kill me!
    – Submitted by Rachael R (13 months ago)
    1. Celia: Go get him googly bear!
    – Submitted by Matthew R (15 months ago)
    1. Mike Wazowski: Whew! You got any deodorant I can borrow?
    2. James P. Sullivan "Sully": Yeah. I've got 'Smelly Garbage' and 'Old Dumpster'.
    – Submitted by Aaron S (15 months ago)
View all quotes (57)

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Monster AG (DE)
  • Monsters, Inc. (UK)
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