(G, 96 minutes.)
More than a decade after its original theatrical release, this hugely enjoyable - and very successful - fourth outing from Pixar makes a welcome holiday return, now suitably converted for a 3D-expectant audience.
Monsters, Inc. 3D Trailer
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Monsters, Inc. 3D Trailer
Monsters generate their city's power by scaring children, but they are terribly afraid themselves of being contaminated by children, so when one enters Monstropolis, top scarer Sulley finds his world disrupted. Originally released in 2001, the animated film is being re-released in 3D.
Granted, it has been dusted off largely to generate interest in the coming Monsters University, but what's most surprising is how well the thing has aged. By today's standards, it might feel rather straightforward in narrative terms, but it remains wildly infectious entertainment, soaked as it is with a colour palette to die for.
Furry beast James P. ''Sulley'' Sullivan (John Goodman) and his one-eyed wingman, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), spend much of their time scaring kids to bits (their job is to gather this energy to power the locale of Monstropolis). Matters become problematic when little girl Boo (Mary Gibbs) ventures inside their world. And so begins a race against time before the blue and green ones get dumped on by their grouchy boss, Henry J. Waternoose (screen great James Coburn, in one of his last screen performances). A rival collector (Steve Buscemi) and Mike's girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) provide a neat subplot to keep things moving along.
The glorious chase sequence to shoo Boo back home remains an obvious highlight, even if it feels protracted for audiences used to faster, tighter sequences on screen. Having these antics writ large in 3D makes up for it.
Those who have grown up watching the film in 2D at home will, one assumes, venture out to relive it again. (There are other notable 3D reissues due soon, including anniversary conversions of The Little Mermaid and, for live-action fans, Top Gun. Neither seem quite as well suited to such an experience as this, though.)
Also worthy of reminder is the great Randy Newman, who scored a deserving best original song Oscar for his input in the film's feel-good soundtrack (for the song If I Didn't Have You). Newman's astute musical nuances are crucial in cementing the film's broad appeal.
It's interesting to note how far Pixar has come since Monsters, Inc. It has continued to deliver dependable modern gems (Toy Story 3, Up) while also, inevitably, firing off the odd clunker (namely, both Cars films and, to some extent, 2012's Brave). This dust-off serves as a shrewdly timed reminder of Pixar's early, heady days, when the animation powerhouse could do no wrong.