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Legacy Review

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

This was my first time watching this all the way through since I became a dad, and BOY does it hit different. I had either forgotten or not properly processed how prominent the theme of parenthood is: How it changes you, alters your priorities, becomes your main identity, isolates you from your peers, constantly scares and challenges you, and is ultimately the most meaningful and important thing you will ever do.

(Come to think of it, all of Pete Docter’s movies have fairly prominent parenthood themes; more specifically, having parenthood thrust upon you and having to adapt.)

But I think the bedrock reason that Monsters, Inc. works so well is because it is such an accomplished piece of worldbuilding. The setting is vivid and rich, filled with details in every shot that give it depth, a well-defined set of institutions and their role in everyday life, crystallized societal values that the characters operate consistently within, etc…

Compare the worldbuilding of this with any other Pixar movie that takes place in a fantasy/speculative world — Onward, Inside Out, Soul, Wall-E — and Monsters, Inc. really stands head and shoulders above the rest.

The story is quite good, making great use of the elements of the worldbuilding, and pushing the characters to their limits. And this is the best example of a wild third-act chase that Pete Docter tends to use in his movies.

It’s a bit too slapsticky for my tastes, but still very funny. Great script. Overall pretty close to a masterpiece.

Last thought: Am I the only one who thinks the final scene was unnecessary? I liked the ending up until then as a metaphor for watching your kids’ childhood ending way too fast, with only memories and mementos left. But I guess Pixar didn’t want to leave things bittersweet.

Is It Good?

Exceptionally Good (7/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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