Top critical review
Even Crystal can't save this one
on February 14, 2003
Let it be known that this review does not apply to children, who obviously love this film (although I definitely include something very much germaine to kids later in this review, so please read on). However, as an adult who loved the "Toy Story" movies (by the same filmmakers) and generally appreciate well-made films, I was very sadly disappointed in "Monsters, Inc."
Perhaps part of my problem is that I never have understood why anyone would care to spend time being "entertained" by John Goodman, who doesn't even have the benefit of his large presence here, but only contributes his voice, which is thoroughly forgettable. The fun provided by Billy Crystal, especially in scenes with administrative assistant Roz, provide about most of the fun you will find here, and I think they have a total of three brief scenes together.
Otherwise, put simply, I just did not laugh. I recall chuckling about three times during the course of this film, and that's not going to earn more than two stars from me, I don't care how cute the little girl is or how great the animation is (admittedly wonderful, although the opening titles "doors" theme is just shabby looking).
On the other hand, "Toy Story" still gets me rolling on the floor. In other words, it's not that I'm inured to this computer-generated method of filmmaking; it's just that this one is far inferior to earlier efforts. If the viewer is willing to be charitable based only on the animation, it could be viewed as a really terrific film, but that's like seeing a sci-fi spectacular and only being able later to recall that the special effects were great. A comedy should be FUNNY, not just look good.
The thing that really pushed this one into the "really dislike it" category is the boss, the creature who runs the factory. He and Goodman's character have a really nice mentor/protege relationship for most of the way, which is a neat and refreshing change of pace. But, inevitably, they fall into the nasty, class-envy cliche of making the boss the bad guy.
Pathetic! So we again indoctrinate our children with the image of an authority figure being evil. Wonderful message, Pixar/Disney. Stuff it.