Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Monsters, Inc.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) and James P. “Sully” Sullivan (voice of John Goodman) could be just a couple of average working Joes if they weren’t their firm’s top grossing employees, the heroes of the plant — and monsters.

You wouldn’t find this odd couple knocking back after-work brewskis in your neighborhood pub. Mike’s a little green man (well, more a green ball with a great big, baby-blue eye, a toothy grin and spindly limbs) who bears a family resemblance (a cousin a few times — and eyes — removed) to his Pixar-animated ancestors, the LGMs of the Toy Story features. Sully’s lineage is a little more down-to-earth: He could be the spotted blue, furry and horned distant relative of their accidental host, the friendly outcast Yeti (voice of John Ratzenburger), who can’t understand why villagers call him the Abominable — not Adorable — Snowman.

But these characters do more than look funny. The laughs of Monsters, Inc. come from a classic comedy flip of the script that turns the fish-out-of-water story inside out by filling a familiar world with the oddball. Mike and Sully are the animated descendants of zany and completely odd couples from Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello through Brooklyn blue-collar stiffs Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (Art Carney) of “The Honeymooners” and their stone-aged cartoon kin “The Flintstones.” Pixar takes full advantage of animation to create the oddest couple of all and has them punch a clock at Monsters, Inc., a plant that powers urban Monstropolis on energy derived from the screams of human children.

The world of Monsters, Inc. is fantastically detailed in image and plot, an Easter-egg hunt of clever visual jokes and allusions — and a melodramatic roller-coaster ride that tear-jerks and thrills. Monsters, Inc. makes great entertainment.

E-mail James Keith La Croix at letters@metrotimes.com.

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