Monsters Inc 3D


Directed by Pete Docter. Voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, John Ratzengberger, Frank Oz G cert, general release, 92 min

Receiving a welcome reissue in unwelcome 3D, the fourth film from Pixar – a prequel arrives later this year – stands up well, but it does look a little like a transitional work. Emerging between the releases of Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo, the 2001 picture is neither as funny as the fish film nor as moving as the toy fantasy.

It is, of course, asking a great deal to expect any film to live up to those standards. If Pixar had just sprung into existence, Monsters Inc would have seemed like an unexpected miracle. As things were, it seemed like a mere wonder.

Monsters Inc hangs around a rather beautiful idea: the fear every child has of the monster under the bed is reciprocated with equal vigour. John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi voice creatures neatly modelled on their own stock personalities: warm, smart-mouthed, creepy. They are all wonderful creations, but the star of the piece remains a gorgeously silly toddler named Boo.

That character marked a significant strategic advance in Pixar’s thinking. To this point, the weak spot in the animations had been with the dead-eyed, plastic, uncanny humans. Pete Docter, the director of Monsters Inc, took the smart decision to lean towards caricature rather than digital realism.

A decade on, Pixar has learned to construct human characters as fleshy as those in Brave, but Boo remains an endlessly funny, touching and diverting creation. Her relationship with soft-centred Sully (“Kitty!”) and wise-talking Mike Wazowski is straight out of Damon Runyon.

Is that all? Well, we must, I suppose, mention the 3D. As is so often the case with these re-issues, the opening titles make a bumpy impression and then the effect becomes largely insignificant, if not entirely invisible.

There are enough marvels on screen. Why put this unnecessary gimmick in the way?