The Pixar classic Monsters, Inc. has made its return to theaters in glossy, though unnecessary, 3D.
Even though they are steadily earning less and less money with each release, Disney seems to be in love with the idea of re-releasing some of their best films in 3D. The studio always finds a viable excuse for the reissues such as Blu-ray debuts and the upcoming releases of sequels, but one can only imagine that their true intent is in cold hard cash. The latest film returning to theaters is Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., which is understandable since the release of a prequel titled Monsters University is on the horizon. I took a hiatus from the film after burning out my parents’ DVD player, so now that Monsters, Inc. is back in theaters I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the Pixar classic with fresh, more mature eyes. So, does Monsters, Inc. hold up in a cynical, technology-driven era of cinema, and does 3D complement the story in any way?
For those unfamiliar with Monsters, Inc., Pixar’s fourth film is based on the concept of monsters living in a separate dimension from humans. They rely on the screams of human children as their central power source – hence the reason why monsters come out of closets each night to scare kids. However, human children are known to be extremely dangerous to monsters, since it is taught that a single touch from a child can be fatal. Thus, monsters who are brave enough to collect the necessary energy work for Monsters, Inc., which is the company that refines scream into clean energy which everyone can use. Two of its best employees are top-notch scarer James P. “Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman) and his loyal assistant Mike Wasowski (Billy Crystal), who are both working to break the all-time scare record. However, one night Sully stays behind and notices that a door – or in another sense a portal between the worlds of monsters and humans – is activated on the scare floor after hours. Soon, a child enters the monster world and causes massive panic as Mike and Sully attempt to return her to the world in which she belongs, while simultaneously unraveling a company scandal.
Like Finding Nemo, this is a Pixar film that I incessantly watched over and over again as a child, and as a result I was burnt out on it for quite a while. However, after picking up Monsters, Inc. on Blu-ray I once again recognized the hilarity and emotional power of one of Pixar’s earliest works. The same exact thing happened once I saw it in a theater projecting the film in crisp 3D. The script of this film is purely Pixar, for it is certainly a near-perfect mix of humor and emotion while also being appealing to all age groups. Characters are memorable, the dialogue is hilarious, moments throughout the story affect different emotions, and of course the message is heartwarming and relatable. I found it interesting that when I revisited Monsters, Inc., I was able to unearth more pathos and philosophical meaning. In other words, this film can be viewed both as a treatise on corporate scandal and an example of the benefits of good parenting. Still, the beauty of a family film like this is that at the same time in its simplicity, it can be enjoyed tremendously. With any Pixar film comes great music and voice acting, and of course Monsters, Inc. is an excellent showcase of these traits. It’s no wonder that Randy Newman’s score was nominated for an Academy Award, for it most definitely tugs on the heartstrings at the proper moments with its sheer beauty, and the end credits song “If I Didn’t Have You” was also deserving of its Oscar. John Goodman and Billy Crystal are practically the main reasons why Mike and Sully are such memorable characters; their voiceovers are hilarious, while Steve Buscemi also gave a memorable performance as the villainous Randall Boggs. Of course, Monsters, Inc. was and still is a fantastic animated film.
Now I know all of you are wondering how Monsters, Inc. fares in 3D, and I have to say that I had a positive experience with the format in this instance. Still, I also must say that this is not a film you should take a friend to in order to convince him of the worth of 3D. The image quality certainly wasn’t poor – the film’s print was crisp and bright as I expected, providing for a pleasing visual experience. It’s just that this film doesn’t have any particular shots that stand out in 3D like in Finding Nemo, although it does add some excitement to the climax. On top of that, the print itself often didn’t appear to be 3D imagery anyway. The good thing about the 3D print though is that due to the crispness and large size of theatre screens, small details in the production design actually popped out much easier than they had before, pleasing this here Pixar fanboy. In short, the 3D print is completely fine, there’s just nothing spectacular about it. You won’t be disappointed if you see Monsters, Inc. in 3D, but if there are 2D showings available at a theater I would recommend saving a few dollars. Still, regardless of format Monsters, Inc. is a film that can entertain and impact emotions at any time of the year, and this is chance to experience it again in theaters should be taken.
Note: This score reflects the score for the film and 3D print coupled together, for I give the film itself a score of 9.0.