We Scare Because We Care

Monsters Inc. – I thought I’d written about this movie the first time I saw it, but I can’t locate such a post, so I’m doing so after a rewatch last night. It looks at the childhood myth of monsters in closets from the monsters’ point of view. They’re not scaring kids just to be mean, but because human screams are their energy source. It’s a job to them, and a fairly prestigious one at that. The rest of the time, they live fairly normal lives. They’re also just as scared of humans as humans are of them, if not more so, due to a belief that kids and their possessions are toxic to the touch.

Monster society is bizarre, but also cute and colorful, with many different sorts of monsters. There is the question of how, say, the giant monster we see would get by in a city where all the amenities we see are basically human-sized, but for the most part the world is so detailed that such things don’t spoil the fantasy. The central characters are a furry monster named James P. Sullivan, the top scarer at Monsters Inc., voiced by John Goodman; and his partner and roommate Michael Wazowski, a green eyeball creature voiced by Billy Crystal. When staying late one night to help Mike with his paperwork, Sulley stumbles upon a plot involving his main rival, a lizard named Randall Boggs who can turn invisible.

He and the company CEO, Henry Waternoose, plan to kidnap human children and use a torture machine to extract their screams in large doses. Don’t ask me why the name Waternoose shows up among others that are common among humans. Also, if Waternoose knows kids aren’t really toxic, why does he allow the factory floor to be shut down for decontamination, thus lowering production? Anyway, Sulley accidentally brings a human child into Monstropolis, and while at first he’s afraid of her, they later come to be friends. The CEO banishes Mike and Sulley to the Himalayas, where they meet up with a very friendly Abominable Snowman voiced by Pixar mainstay John Ratzenberger.

A brief comment by Mike earlier in the film establishes that he, along with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, had been exiled from the monster world for unknown reasons. Our heroes return to Monstropolis through a closet and trick Waternoose into exposing the plot.

I’m not entirely sure why kidnapping a human would be illegal in a society that regularly exploits them for energy, but since the agency that arrests Waternoose is the same as the one that decontaminates monsters who’ve touched humans or their things, they’re probably in charge of avoiding interdimensional incidents. The company is shut down, but Sulley gets it back into business with the discovery that human laughter is actually much more powerful than human screams.

By the way, a brief comment near the beginning of the movie suggests that Mike and Sulley knew each other since fourth grade, which is contradicted by their meeting in college in the prequel. Oh, well.

This entry was posted in Cartoons, Monsters, Revisiting Disney, VoVat Goes to the Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to We Scare Because We Care

  1. So one of the best things we did at Disnwy World last week was the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland. I don’t think the kids have eve n seen the movie, but thw wait was short when we were there so we went. It’s a stand up comedy show performed by virtual puppets, so they look like cartoons but they actually interact with the audience. Maddie got singled out for a chat, so that made it even more memorable.

    • Nathan says:

      That sounds like fun. I don’t think that was there the one time I went to Disney World eight years ago, but I didn’t see everything anyway. I do still want to go back.

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