- “It's nothing personal. It's just their job.”
Monsters, Inc. is a 2001 computer-animated film and the fourth feature-length film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. It was directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Lee Unkrich and David Silverman, and was written by Jack W. Bunting, Jill Culton, Pete Docter, Ralph Eggleston, Dan Gerson, Jeff Pidgeon, Rhett Reese, Jonathan Roberts, and Andrew Stanton.
The film was released to theaters by Walt Disney Pictures in the United States on November 2, 2001. It was a commercial and critical success, grossing $562,816,256 worldwide. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes also reported extremely positive reviews with a fresh 96% approval rating. The film was re-released in theaters in 3D on December 19, 2012. A prequel to the film, Monsters University which highlights Mike and Sulley's first meeting during their college days was released on June 21, 2013 and is also Pixar's first prequel movie made to one of their original films.
A TV spin-off series was announced during a Disney press release on November 9, 2017. The spin-off series will be a part of Disney's New Streaming Service
The movie opens with a young kid laying in bed, frightened while looking at his closet door. Next thing he knows, a monster is standing beside him. The boy sits up and the scared monster screams, trips, and falls. Suddenly, alarms go off, lights come on, and we discover that it is a scaring practice going on in the training room of Monsters, Inc, the power company of Monstropolis. The head of the power company is Mr. Waternoose (James Coburn). He is training new monsters to scare kids. It seems that Monstropolis gets all its power from screams, and he has a whole squad of monsters whose job it is to scare kids at night and collect their screams.
It is a very complicated system they have for collecting the screams. They have a warehouse full of closet doors, and they call up a particular door for whichever room they want. The door is sent by a hanging conveyor belt and placed in front of the Monster on the "scare floor". When the door is opened, the monster is in another room in another part of the world. If for any reason there is a problem with that particular room, the door is shredded.
One other thing... Monsters are actually more scared of the human kids than the kids are of them. If any part of the human world enters the monster world, the CDA (Child Detection Agency) comes in and decontaminates the place and monster bringing it in.
The top scarer is James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman). He is the best in the business. With the help of his assistant Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), they are about to break the record for most screams collected. In 2nd place on the list is Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi). He will stop at nothing to be in first place. One night, Mike is in a hurry to get out since he has a date with his girlfriend Celia Mae (Jennifer Tilly) to celebrate her birthday. He forgets to finish his paperwork, so Sulley says he will go back in to get it. Sulley goes back to the scare floor and it is deserted, except for one door, which is still on the floor. Sulley is curious, so he peeks inside the door. Inside is a cute little girl who is not scared at all of Sulley and in fact, thinks he is cute. Sulley is terrified of her and runs out the door, back to the scare floor. He hears a thumping sound and realizes that the girl, playing with his tail. He shakes her off and runs into the bathroom. When he looks into the mirror, he discovers that the girl is on his back.
Sulley wants to take the girl back to her door, but when he goes back to the scare floor, Randall and his assistant are looking in the door and are upset that the girl isn't there. They send the door back to the door warehouse. Sulley places the girl in a suitcase and heads out to the restaurant to find Mike. He interrupts Mike and Celia's dinner and shows Mike what he has in the suitcase. The girl gets out of the suitcase, and the whole restaurant is in panic. The CDA arrive, and the patrons are screaming and running, terribly afraid of the girl.
Sulley scoops her up and he, the girl (whom he names Boo) and Mike run to their apartment. They try to hide her as the helicopters are searching outside, but whenever she cries, the lights come on brighter. Though when she laughs, the lights come on super bright. In fact, she laughs so hard once that she blows the fuse to the building. The next day they put a monster costume on Boo and bring her to the factory. Their goal is to find her door and bring her back without anyone noticing. Unfortunately, Randall and his assistant are there also, and they too are looking for Boo. It made the news about Boo and the restaurant, and they are sure it is their fault.
Eventually, Randall convinces Mike that if they bring the girl back to the scream floor, the door will be there waiting for them. Mike tells Sulley this and right before they enter, Sulley figures out that Randall would never want to help them so it must be a trap of some kind. Mike thinks he is crazy and runs in and starts jumping on Boo's bed. Suddenly, a box comes down and traps Mike inside. Sulley hides as Randall and his assistant take the box to another room in the warehouse.
In the basement, Randall reveals to Mike that he has built a torture machine ("Scream Extractor") to extract children's screams from their lungs (which would make the company's current tactics redundant). Randall straps Mike to the chair for experimentation and starts it up to try not to let him talk, but Sulley stops Randall for using the Scream Extractor on Mike and unplugs the machine. He then takes Mike and, along with Boo, runs to find Mr. Waternoose. Waternoose is proud of the two of them for discovering Randall's evil plan. The most important thing is, however, getting the girl back home. They head to the scare floor and Waternoose calls up Boo's closet door.
Sulley and Mike say that it is the wrong door. Waternoose says he knows... it is not the door for her, it is the door for them and with that, he pushes the two through a door that leads them to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. They have been banished from Monstropolis. Sulley gets the idea that if they go to the closest town, all they have to do is to find any kid's closet and return to Monstropolis.
Back to the scare floor and out of a door comes Sulley. He rushes to the secret room and there, trapped in a chair is Boo, about to have her screams sucked out. Sulley destroys the machine, takes Boo and rushes her to the scream floor to find her door with Randall right on their heels. They race from door to door, trying to find a shortcut to Boo's door in the warehouse. Each time they go through a door, they are in another part of the world.
They finally trap Randall in a door that leads to a trailer in the Bayou. The kid in the trailer calls out to his mother that another alligator has come inside and the boy hands a shovel to his mother who then clubs the "gator". Waternoose chases Sulley and Boo through a door that they think is Boo's. Waternoose reveals to Sulley that it is actually his plan to kidnap thousands of children to use them on the scream extractor. It is the only way the factory can be saved. Suddenly, an alarm sounds and all the lights come on. They are not in Boo's room after all. They are actually in the training room from the beginning of the film and Waternoose has just confessed in front of everybody.
They are all shocked, and the CDA arrest Waternoose after hearing his confession. The actual head of the company was Monsters Inc's dispatcher Roz, who has been undercover for over two years trying to expose Waternoose's plot. She congratulates Sulley and gets the key to bringing Boo's door down.
Sulley, who has grown quite fond of Boo, tucks her in her own bed, plays with a few of her toys with her and then goes back to his own world, shutting the door behind him to never see Boo anymore. The door is shredded. The next day, the workers are now leaving the factory for the last time. It is being shut down because kids just cannot be scared anymore. Sulley suddenly has an idea and races back inside with a plan to end the company's energy crisis.
The next scene is Mike entering a kid's closet door. He sits down in front of the kid and starts doing a standup routine as a comedian. The kid starts laughing at Mike after he swallowed his microphone and then burps loudly. Finally, the power generated is enormous. It turns out that a child's laugh has ten times the power of a child's scream. The factory is saved. Sulley is still sad, though, as he still misses Boo. Mike then tells Sulley that he has a surprise.
In the testing room, it is revealed the Mike had successfully re-pieced Boo's door together. All it needs is one more piece. Sulley lifts some papers on his clipboard and pulls out the last piece of Boo's door, which he kept as a memento. Once Sulley places the last piece into the door, the light above the door illuminates. Sulley slowly opens the door and looks to see if Boo is around. Boo then says "Kitty" and Sulley smiles in delight for seeing Boo once more.
- John Goodman as James P. "Sulley" Sullivan, a large, furry blue monster with purple spots and the protagonist of the film. At the start of the film, is Monsters, Inc.'s top scarer. After Waternoose's plan is revealed, Sulley becomes the CEO of the company, overseeing the collection of laughter from children.
- Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski, a green monster and Sulley's sidekick, who is mostly an eyeball with hands, feet, and horns. Mike is Sulley's best friend and runs his station on the scare floor. After Sulley takes over, Mike becomes one of the monsters that helps extract laughs from children, using his stand-up comedy.
- Mary Gibbs as "Boo", a two-year-old human girl that is inadvertently brought back to the monster world by Sulley. She appears unafraid of any of the strange monsters (except for Randall, who it turns out was the monster that would occupy her closet the most out of all the Monsters, Inc. monsters), and tries to explore the world on her own. In a book based on the film, it is revealed that Boo's real name is Mary Gibbs (the same name of her voice actress).
- Steve Buscemi as Randall Boggs, an anthropomorphic chameleon-like monster and the primary, later secondary antagonist of the film. Randall has the ability to change the color of his skin to camouflage himself and to turn invisible. He is a direct rival to Sulley, attempting to earn the most Scares during shifts, and is in on Waternoose's plan to kidnap children from the human world. He is the primary, later secondary antagonist of the film
- James Coburn as Henry J. Waternoose, a monster crab and, at the start of the film, CEO of Monsters, Inc. This was Coburn's last role in an animated work. He is the true and hidden main antagonist of the film.
- Jennifer Tilly as Celia Mae, a Medusa-like monster with snakes instead of hair, Mike's girlfriend, and receptionist for the company. She playfully refers to Mike as "Googly Bear".
- Bob Peterson as Roz, a slug-like monster that works as a clerk for the Scare floor, but secretly is the top agent of the Child Detection Agency (CDA) who were seeking evidence for Waternoose's plan.
- John Ratzenberger as Yeti, he was banished to the Himalayas
- Frank Oz as Fungus, a three-eyed monster that works as Randall's assistant on the Scare floor, and while aware of the plan, is hesitant to help with its execution.
- Bonnie Hunt as Ms. Flint, a snake-like monster that trains new monsters in scaring tactics.
- Jeff Pidgeon as Mr. Bile (his friends call him "Phlegm"), a monster, newly hired to Monsters, Inc., who tries, and fails, to impress Sulley and Mr. Waternoose with his scaring antics, but is able to use his clumsiness to extract laughs from children at the end of the film.
- Daniel Gerson as Needleman and Smitty, two monsters that work as janitors on the Scare floor
- Sam Black as George Sanderson, a monster that runs afoul of the CDA's "code 23-19", contact with a human child, several times during the film, forcing the CDA to shave and scrub him to remove any trace of human contact.
The idea for Monsters, Inc. started with a lunch in 1994. At this lunch was John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft. One of the ideas that came out of the brainstorming session was a film about monsters. Docter's original idea revolved around a 30-year old man dealing with monsters, which he drew in a book as a child, coming back to bother him as an adult. Each monster represented a fear he had and conquering those fears caused the monsters to eventually disappear.
Docter started working on the script in 1996 and with Harley Jessup, Jill Culton and Jeff Pidgeon completed a draft treatment in February 1997. The initial story did not have the character of Mike Wazowski. He was not added until a story review meeting between Pixar and Disney in April 1998. The film went into production in 2000.
The release of Monsters, Inc. was almost delayed by a lawsuit brought by Lori Madrid against Pixar, Disney and Chronicle Books. The suit alleged the defendants had stolen her story There's a Boy in My Closet, which she had mailed out in October 1999 to a number of publishers, including Chronicle Books. The plaintiffs had requested a temporary injunction against the release of the film. Judge Clarence Brimmer, Jr. had a hearing on the injunction on November 1, 2001, the day before the film was to be released. He judged against the injunction, and the entire suit was thrown out on June 26, 2002.
Another lawsuit by Stanley Mouse alleged that the characters of Mike and Sulley were based on drawings he had tried to sell Hollywood in 1998.
Monsters, Inc. ranked #1 at the box office its opening weekend, grossing $62,577,067 in North America alone. The film had a small drop-off of 27.2% over its second weekend, earning another $45,551,028. In its third weekend, the film experienced a larger decline of 50.1%, placing itself in the second position just after Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerers's Stone. In its fourth weekend, however, there was an increase of 5.9%. Making $24,055,001 that weekend, it is the seventh biggest (in US$) fourth weekend ever for a film.
As of September 26, 2002, the film has a total of $255,873,250 in the United States and Canada and $269,493,347 in other territories for a worldwide gross of $525,366,597. The film is Pixar's eighth highest-grossing film worldwide and fifth in North America. For a time, the film went on to take the place of Toy Story 2 as the second highest-grossing animated film of all time, behind only The Lion King.
In the UK, Ireland, and Malta, it earned £37,264,502 ($53,335,579) in total, marking the 6th highest-grossing animated feature of all time in the country and the 32nd largest movie of all time. In Japan, although earning $4,471,902 during its opening and ranking second behind The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for the weekend, on subsequent weekends it moved to first place due to exceptionally small decreases or even increases and dominated for six weeks at the box office.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 96% based on 192 reviews, with an average score of 8/10. The critical consensus was: "Clever, funny, and delightful to look at, Monsters, Inc. delivers another resounding example of how Pixar elevated the bar for modern all-ages animation." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 78 based on 34 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Charles Taylor from Salon.com stated: "It's agreeable and often funny, and adults who take their kids to see it might be surprised to find themselves having a pretty good time." Elvis Mitchell from The New York Times gave a positive review, praising the film's use of "creative energy": "There hasn't been a film in years to use creative energy as efficiently as Monsters, Inc." Although Mike Clark from USA Today thought the comedy was sometimes "more frenetic than inspired and viewer emotions are rarely touched to any notable degree," he thought the film to be as "visually inventive as its Pixar predecessors."
ReelViews film critic James Berardinelli, who gave the film 31⁄2 stars out of 4 wrote, saying that Monsters, Inc. was "one of those rare family films that parents can enjoy (rather than endure) along with their kids."
Roger Ebert, film critic from Chicago Sun-Times, who gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, called the film "cheerful, high-energy fun, and like the other Pixar movies, has a running supply of gags and references aimed at grownups." Lisa Schwarzbaum, a film critic for Entertainment Weekly, giving the film a B, praised the film's animation, stating "Everything from Pixar Animation Studios, the snazzy, cutting-edge computer animation outfit, looks really, really terrific, and unspools with a liberated, heppest-moms-and-dads-on-the-block iconoclasm."
The score was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the song "If I Didn't Have You" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Awards and nominations
Monsters, Inc. won the Academy Award for Best Song (Randy Newman, after 15 previous nominations, for If I Didn't Have You). It was also nominated for Best Animated Feature (lost to Shrek), and Best Music, Original Score (lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring).
- In her room, Boo hands Sulley a Jessie doll from Toy Story 2, the Luxo Ball, and a plush of Nemo from Finding Nemo. Since Finding Nemo was the Pixar film that followed Monsters, Inc., it was a sneak peek to the upcoming film.
- Mike goes into a child's bedroom to make him laugh. Inside the bedroom, there are two vintage Disneyland attraction posters: Rocket Jets and Sailing Ship Columbia.
- When Randall arrives in the trailer, it is the trailer from A Bug's Life, and the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story is seen sitting next to it.
- In the bloopers of the film, Rex from the Toy Story films makes a cameo appearance.
One month after the movie's theatrical release (on December 7, 2001) a version with alternative end credits was brought into theaters. There, the credits are accompanied by a "blooper reel", followed by the musical "Put That Thing Back Where it Came From or So Help Me", performed by the cast. This version can be found as a separate feature on the collector's Edition DVD and in the credits of the VHS and 4:3 fullscreen DVD versions as well as the end credits of the R2-R5 widescreen version for Eastern Europe. As is common for Pixar movies, international versions differ in the contents. Many English inscriptions are either removed or replaced by more generic symbols, especially in Monstropolis and at the Scarefloor. For instance, the "Stalk/Don't Stalk" traffic light is replaced by a green two-headed monster (for "Stalk") and a forbidding red hand (for "Don't Stalk"). Additionally, an animation of Sulley telling Boo to go to sleep was changed for Non-English version, as in the US version, he holds up two fingers to illustrate "to" in "You - go - to - sleep". For the title sequence, language versions that do not use the Latin Alphabet replace the letters "W" "A" "L" T" "D" "I" "S" "N" "E" "Y" "P" "I" "C" "T" "U" "R" "E" "S" with eyeballs peeking out the doors. Several European DVDs contain only the "international" version, whereas the US DVDs and US/UK Blu-ray contain the "US" version. Some of the examples for alternative angles can be seen in the bonus material of the 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray of the film.
The film was re-released in theaters in 3D on December 19, 2012, and it featured the outtakes in 3D during the credits just like the movie.
There is a parody of Monsters, Inc. in the Cartoon Network show, MAD. It is called "Pokémonsters, Inc." and involves Ash Ketchum being released in the monster world rather than Boo.
- Main article: Monsters University
A prequel, Monsters University was released on June 21, 2013. Set in Mike and Sulley's college years, it is about how the two became friends and got their job.
- Main article: Monsters, Inc. (video)
A short was made by Pixar in 2002 named Mike's New Car, in which the two main characters have assorted misadventures with a car Mike has just bought. This film was not screened in theaters, but is included with all home video releases of Monsters, Inc.
A manga version of Monsters, Inc. was made by Hiromi Yamafuji and distributed in Kodansha's Comic Bon Bon magazine in Japan; the manga was published in English by Tokyopop until it became out of print.
A series of video games and a multi-platform video game were created, based on the film, such as a film adaptation, Monsters Inc., developed by A2M on PS2, PC, Game Boy Color, and GBA consoles in 2001.
A game was released early 2013 called Monsters, Inc. Run for iOS and Android devices.
Feld Entertainment toured a Monsters, Inc. edition of their Disney on Ice skating tour from 2003 to 2011.
Theme park attractions
Monsters, Inc. has inspired three attractions at Disney theme parks around the world.
- In 2006, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! opened at Disney's California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The dark ride was developed to boost the theme park's lagging attendance and was quite successful in doing so, at least for a period of time.
- In 2007, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor opened at the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, replacing The Timekeeper. The show is improvisational in nature and features the opportunity for Guests to interact with the monster comedians, and even submit jokes of their own via text message. The attraction has been praised for it being original but has been criticized for being in Tomorrowland.
- In 2009, Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek opened at Tokyo Disneyland at the Tokyo Disney Resort in Chiba, Japan.
- In the scene at the end of the movie where Mike is making the boy laugh a poster saying "Tomorrowland" can be seen behind him. This can possibly be why they chose to put the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom.
- Monsters Inc. was the first film by Pixar to not be directed by John Lasseter. Instead, it was the directorial debut of Lasseter's good friend and co-worker, Pete Docter.
- Up to date, this is the last Pixar film to have a blooper reel. This time, it includes the company play Sulley and Mike worked on, inspired by their journey they had through the movie.
- The simulation control panel has the numbers 510-752-3000 on it, which is also the phone number for Pixar's Animation Studio.
- Mike says that Sulley has been wanting his good looks since 4th grade, but they first met in college. Pixar knew about the quote. According the behind scenes of Monsters University they tried to work that quote into the movie however they could not. So they said it was an "old monster saying."
- Near the end when Mike swallows the microphone in a boy's bedroom, the sound of his stomach rumbling is the same rumbling sound Al's tummy made in Toy Story 2.
- Monsters Inc. is the only Pixar film directed by Pete Docter that has not received a PG rating.
- This was the first Pixar film to be broadcast on STARZ.
- The protagonist in the 2017 Edgar Wright film Baby Driver (portrayed by Ansel Elgort) constantly quotes Monsters, Inc. to the point where his boss (portrayed by Kevin Spacey) tells him not to feed him any more lines from Monsters, Inc. as it annoys him. Ironically, Kevin Spacey featured in Pixar's A Bug's Life.
- Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Tilly later co-starred in the 2004 film Home on the Range.
- This is the first Pixar feature to have the "Created and Produced at Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville, California" credit at the end.
- The Pizza Planet truck is parked next to the trailer from A Bug's Life where Randall ends up at the end.
- Roly Poly Clown from Toy Story appears at the end.
- Boo has in her room a Pixar Ball, a Nemo toy and a Jessie doll.
- Rex appears in the outtakes.
- Randall turns the same color as Andy's bedroom paint job from Toy Story at one point.
- The wall behind the Octopus in Harryhausen's has Marlin from Finding Nemo on it.
- Nemo also appears on the door of the Trailer Son and Mom when Sulley throws Randall into it.
- The toy plane from Toy Story appeared on the top left of the shelf in the little boy's bedroom at the beginning.
- During the scene where Mike and Sully walk to work, that day's Monstropolis Horn is shown in a vending machine. With the Blu-ray release of the movie, the articles on the front page are just legible enough to recognize that the same text was used for both the "Scream Shortage Looms" and "Modern Kids Harder to Scare".
- In the Scare Simulator, the "J" is backwards.
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