Monsters, Inc. (2001) – DVD Review

monsters inc dvd cover

Film:
DVD:
Soundtrack:

Written by: Dan Gerson & Andrew Stanton
Directed by: Pete Docter, with David Silverman & Lee Unkrich
Starring: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Mary Gibbs

Features:

  1. Running audio commentary with director Docter, co-director Unkrich, executive producer John Lasseter & executive producer/writer Stanton
  2. “Sneak Peeks” for Finding Nemo, the Beauty & the Beast DVD, the Lilo and Stitch DVD, Inspector Gadget 2 and Treasure Planet
  3. Mike’s New Car: new animated short with audio commentary by Docter & Gould
  4. For the Birds: animated short with audio commentary by director Ralph Eggleston
  5. Outtakes
  6. Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me: The Monsters, Inc. Company Play and Program
  7. Pixar production tour
  8. Monstropolis and Setting the Scene featurettes
  9. Color Scripts & Master Lighting galleries
  10. Location flyarounds
  11. Monstropolis art gallery
  12. Guide to In-Jokes
  13. Cast of Characters & What Makes a Great Monster? featurettes
  14. Character Designs gallery
  15. Story is King and Monsters Are Real featurettes
  16. Original Treatment
  17. Story Pitch session: “Back to Work (early version)”
  18. Banished Concepts
  19. Original Sulley Intro
  20. Storyboard to Film Comparison
  21. Animation Process featurette
  22. Early Test Footage with audio commentary by Supervising
  23. Technical Director Thomas Porter, Simulation/FX Sequence Supervisor Steve May and Sequence Supervisor Michael Fong
  24. Opening Title Animation featurette
  25. “Hard Parts” featurette regarding technological innovations
  26. Shots Department featurette
  27. Production Demo
  28. “If I Didn’t Have You” music video and featurette
  29. Sound Design and foley featurette
  30. Binaural Recording explanation and demonstrations
  31. Footage from the movie’s premiere
  32. Toys featurette
  33. Poster gallery
  34. Trailers & TV spots
  35. International Inserts
  36. Multi-Language Clip Reel
  37. Monster TV Treats: interstitial bits from Monday Night Football, the holidays, etc.
  38. Exclusive animation created for the Japanese kids’ show, Ponkickies 21
  39. Peek-a-Boo: Boo’s Door Game
  40. Disney Storytime: “Welcome to Monstropolis”
  41. On the Job With Mike and Sulley animated short
  42. Monsters, Inc. TV commercial, New Employee Orientation Video, and Employee Handbook
  43. History of Monster World
  44. Collectible Monsters, Inc. Scarer Cards, with commentary by Needleman and Smitty

Released by: Disney/Pixar
Region: 1
Rating: G
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Own it.

Welcome to Monsterworld. Here, the main source of power is not fossil fuels–but the screams of children. Thus, when monsters come out of kids’ closet doors at night to scare the living bejeesus out of them–they’re just doing their jobs. Here we meet the top scarer at Monsters, Inc.: Sulley (Goodman). He and his partner/best friend Mike (Crystal) are the number one team on the block, adored by the big boss Waternoose (Coburn) and despised by rival Randall (Buscemi). It’s not a carefree job, though. Children are toxic–and if a child touches you, well, it could get tough, Russ. So of course, you know that chaos is going to ensue when the small child Boo (Gibbs) is accidentally brought from our world into the Monsterworld–and Sulley’s the one to blame.

Ah, this is a fun movie and unfortunately underplayed and underrated in light of the much-lauded and much-inferior Shrek, which robbed Monsters of its rightful Oscar. But regardless. The story is pure Pixar–centering around friendship, a quest that must be fulfilled, and some extraordinary twists along the way. There is of course, my favorite moment of any Pixar film–the Match Moment, as I call it. Anyone who saw the original Toy Story knows what I mean.

And always, Pixar nabs some great voice talent, all the way down the line. Apart from obvious smart choices like Goodman, who was born to portray a lovable monster, and Crystal, whose wit knows cyclopean proportions–down to having Frank Oz as Buscemi’s assistant and pulling members of their own crew for certain parts. I’m thinking specifically of story guy Bob Peterson as Roz, the Dispatch Manager. And of course James Coburn, whose voice has that lovely James Earl quality about it, makes for the perfect scream magnate.

John Goodman as the voice of Sulley from Monsters Inc

John Goodman as the voice of Sulley

Now, since it took you five hours to read the list of features up top, you can kind of figure that this is a fairly stacked edition. However, the two standouts amongst all of that material are some of the best features I have ever witnessed on a disc. First, if you recall, there’s a scene in which Mike is screaming “Put that thing back where it came from or so help me–” and then has to turn it into a musical number to avoid suspicion. He says that it’s the company play. Well, highlights from the company play Put That Thing… are on this set, as well as a twenty-six page program for the production. The other bit is a commentary track–and it’s one of the best I’ve ever heard. This would be for Mike’s New Car, the short created specifically for this set. Now, the commentary track up top says Docter and Gould–but it’s their kids. They must be–six? Seven tops? And it’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time.

There’s other lovely stuff as well. The commentary track on the main feature has the usual suspects from Pixar, but they seem a lot more subdued than normal. Perhaps they’re well rested for once. Regardless, the information that they give is extremely interesting–and they don’t let up in giving it the entire time. The second disc is divided up into “Humans Only” and “Monsters Only” sections and uses the Door system from the film to traverse the menus, which is kinda neat.

Pete Docter and the Pixar chimp

Pete Docter and friend

The tour of the new Pixar facility makes me want to work there even more than I did previously, but the Production Tour’s a little odd on first glance. It takes you through the Tour, then hits the first featurette on each of the different “Humans Only” sections. I can only assume because they figure most people won’t take the time to spend a whole afternoon plowing through the kickass features, they might as well hit the high points. Also, apparently there’s a Pixar chimp. I’m not sure what to make of that.

There are some very cool bits in here. Setting the Scene showcases how you build a world, even allowing you to step through the process of dressing sets. The Location Flyarounds just take you through the various environments and let you see the backgrounds and such that you might have missed during the actual viewing of the film. The Guide to In-Jokes is handy; Harryhausen‘s is one that everyone should catch, but the rest of us need help with the Pixar references.

Facial expressions sheet for Boo from Monsters Inc.

It’s always nice to see where ideas originated, and Pixar gives you that too. There’s a video of Peterson doing a Story Pitch walkthrough with the storyboards tacked up on the wall. There’s the original treatment as well as some of the concepts that were ditched in favor of the final version. You even get test footage with commentary. So it’s fully loaded for front end of the process stuff. There’s also an explanation of how the opening title sequence came about, along with great footage of Goodman and Crystal singing the Newman song from the closing credits. Speaking of the two leads, they also provide a very humorous demonstration of how binaural recording works.

The international material on Pixar’s discs are always interesting–this time around you get the Multi-Language Clip Reel, where they take you through a scene and switch languages as they go. You also get a small bit regarding all of the stuff that needed changing–from newspapers on stands to pieces of the newscast. With something for everybody, there’s some random strangeness in there as well. The bits created for the Japanese kids’ show are…surreal. And the History of Monster World series of narrated stills is…where in the world did that come from?

The only thing that really is a bit annoying about the shorts and featurettes here are how they’ll have people talking about some aspect of the film, and then cut in with little three second bursts from the film. For example, because of this, I’m sick as hell of hearing Billy Crystal make a train whistle sound. It feels like they used that little animated bit to punctuate something like sixteen different statements in the film. Guy: “Wow, it was fun working on the film.” Cut to: Crystal as Mike from the film: “OOO-OOO!” What in the world was that about?

Sulley and Boo from Monsters, Inc.

Sulley approaches the frightening human child...very carefully

Monsters Inc. soundtrack

As for the soundtrack, it’s Randy Newman at his finest. If anything, with each musical score that he creates, he gets even more on his game. And, hey, he finally got a freaking Oscar–so more power to him. Everything from the opening title music to the “Ride of the Doors”–it all fits masterfully with what’s happening on screen. And bonus–it’s a soundtrack that’s perfect for listening to when you just need something jaunty in the background to inspire you to type faster. It starts up with the Goodman/Crystal version of “If I Didn’t Have You” and then ends up with the song again, performed by Newman. It’s a keeper.

Both soundtrack and DVD are just about perfect and both are highly recommmended to add to your collections. The sheer volume of extra stuff on the DVD will take forever and a weekend to get through, but you expected that–it’s Pixar, and it’s worth it.

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By | 2009-08-04T12:06:58+00:00 October 8th, 2002|DVD, Reviews|0 Comments

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