best films: #22: MONSTERS, INC. (2001)
To call it utterly unique, innovative, and groundbreaking is an understatement. And as I sit and ponder how little credit it received where credit was due (it’s less-than-genius, more famous 2001 counterpart Shrek pales immensely in comparison to this achievement), Monsters, Inc. goes down in my own personal record books as one of the most underrated gems of this past decade. From the insanely intricate animation (that quivering blue fur was more realistic than anything 3-D has to offer) to the other-worldly premise, the people at Pixar outdid themselves here. They’ve created an entirely different world that’s never been thought up before (more than you can say for Shrek‘s easy sight gags and dated pop culture references), and Monstropolis is a nirvana of detail and depth. And leave it to Randy Newman to deliver yet another successful soundtrack/score to the Pixar folks. When others will choose a throwaway Smash Mouth song as an anthem, Newman ignites the comedic talents and showmanship of John Goodman and Billy Crystal to great effect (and garnered a much-deserved Oscar for Best Original Song, I may add). Mike, with his mono-ocular demeanor and sardonic wit, pairs so effortlessly with Sully, the big lug with a heart of gold. And even though detractors may say it slips into far-too-cutesy territory with its third member of the central trio, adorable human toddler Boo, I see her as an essential part of Sully’s character; she’s the purely joyous glee he never realized existed (or that he could elicit in another person). So though the animation studio has churned out success after success since 2001, Monsters, Inc. remains possibly the greatest testament to the depths of their writing, nay dreaming, abilities.