Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
You remember how when you were a kid you thought monsters hid in the closet? Well, you were right! But did you know that they're easily as scared of us as we are of them, if not more so? So when Top Scarer Sulley (John Goodman) and his best pal Mike (Billy Crystal) accidentally let a human child (Mary Gibbs) into the Monster World it is a desperate race to get her back to safety, after it transpires that Sulley's rival Randall (Steve Buscemi) intends to kidnap her.
The concept that the monsters we all feared at the age of five are (if anything) more afraid of us than we of them is a stroke of genius in my view, as it is just something you would never think of, as during childhood you saw only from your perspective - that of a little kid who can't understand why the monsters won't let you sleep. But to see it from the monsters' perspective that it must be done in order to fuel the city they live in brings a whole new way of looking at those days of fear, and I'm sure it must have made little kids afraid of monsters all over the world sigh with relief.
As for the pacing of the film, the screenplay works it perfectly as there is always something exciting happening which keeps the action flowing and the attention firm on the film, such moments including Boo scaring the lives out of all the monsters in a restaurant, which is fast-paced, but none more so than the climactic chase (Randall chasing Sulley, Mike and Boo) through the door vault that contains millions of doors leading to different parts of the world, which is sharp and well-edited, as well as such a visual treat with lots of quick pacing that you will be unable to come away from it.
The film also gets in a lot of physical comedy, particularly when it comes to the number of accidents Mike has, which are nicely overexaggerated, and the way Randall manages to get around easily using his chameleon like body, which is made a slick and well-controlled idea. A lot of verbal comedy comes too, especially in the banter between Sulley and Mike, but even more so in Boo, who despite being a 2-year-old who doesn't have a big vocabulary, it is clear that she is the boss, despite being too excited and happy to realise it. And this is also the first Pixar film to offer us toilet humour. Literally, Mike falls in the toilet when hiding from Randall. The thought of Pixar toilet humour is such a horrifying concept, as you could never see Pixar lowering themselves so. But it is the first time and it is giving a very amusing set up, although Boo's reaction of "Eww" is what makes you laugh, as it is such a contrast to how she normally speaks.
The screenplay also offers us some very well developed, strong characters, who are brought to superb life by a stellar voice cast. Goodman makes Sulley so warm-hearted and soft, which is a hilarious twist to the character as he is meant to be the scariest monster in Monstropolis. Buscemi makes Randall a very sly and cunning monster, while James Coburn brings great wisdom and authority, as well as a dark side to Sulley and Randall's ancient boss Waternoose. The two most memorable though, are Gibbs's Boo, whose voice they created by following Gibbs around the studio with a microphonic recorder, and which really makes the character a 100% authentic child character; and Crystal, who makes Mike deliciously over the top, by pouring out absolute bags of wonderful energy, and providing a unique voice that makes the character sound as quirky as he is. And these characters of Sulley, Mike and Boo also work well together to create true poignancy towards the end when their adventure comes to a close, the heartbreaking scene becoming one of Pixar's most poignant to date thanks to the sensitively written dialogue, and the emotional tune played on the piano.
However, let us not forget the beautiful and well defined animation, without which this film would have been impossible to make, which has been the case with every Pixar film. The world of Monstropolis is full of vibrant colours and characters, animating numerous background monsters of different shapes, sizes and colours, which come together like a beautiful painting. And as for the inside of the factory, well, the chase through the door vault was exceptional animation, with almost each door unique and the same size as the others, and all being animated in such detail that it really does become a maze where everything gets lost as it mixes together. The most exceptional piece of the animation in this film though, which had never been done in a computer animation before, is the animation of Sulley's fur. With some three million individual strands on his body, each individual one is given its own unique life - when caught in the wind each strand has its own fluid movement - and it is a creation the animation team spent hundreds of hours on. All that effort truly paid off as it is a spectacular creation that will leave you in awe.
True effort went into making this film, which is funny, exciting and powerful throughout. One of the best Pixar films to date, and one of the best films of 2001 - certainly the best animation of 2001 at least - this is a wonderful film for the whole family, and is one you shall never forget.
Stars: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Mary Gibbs, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson, Frank Oz, John Ratzenberger, Dan Gerson, Bonnie Hunt, Samuel Lord Black.
Oscar: Best Original Song (If I Didn't Have You - Randy Newman).
Oscar nominations: Best Animated Feature (Pete Docter, John Lasseter), Best Sound Editing (Gary Rydstrom, Michael Silvers), Best Original Score (Randy Newman).