Incoherent Thoughts About Monsters Inc & U

Normally we like to have a smooth flow for our Disney copy posts but alas, life isn’t perfect. So here’s a list.

  • If there’s ever been proof of how good the movie makers at Pixar are, it’s the fact that Monsters University made us forget all about how cruel the whole “scare because we care” method of powering Monstropolis is.

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  • Watch these two back to back if you’d like to see just how well the artists and the medium have progressed – though it’s even more obvious if you watch the three Toy Story movies.
  • We like the jazzy feel of Inc and the feverish marching band sound of U. We’ve also always thought “If I Didn’t Have You” was brilliant. It sounds like a song that existed long before the movie came out that they just tweaked a little for Mike and Sully, but nope. Kudos to Randy Newman.
  • Inc has been praised, rightly, for being an ingenious story about finding more ethical power sources. It’s about a friendship, really, but the compelling Sully-bonds-with-Boo thing is directly tied to the energy crisis in Monstropolis. Wall-E is another Pixar movie that explores environmental issues and we think Inc did it better. Wall-E attempts to connect the background context of the movie with the emotional heart of the story by having the main motivation for returning to earth be that Wall-E needs to go home to repair himself because he’s “dying.” It never really did it for us. After seeing the state of the earth we were fine with humanity going home for earth’s sake, not Wall-E’s. But Monsters Inc connects the two much more smoothly. Though Sully and Mike realize that laughter is better than screams early on, it isn’t until Sully accidentally scares Boo that the cruelty of the business becomes clear to him. It has a more natural uprising than Wall-E randomly being smushed by Auto.

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  • seems to us a little underrated, and that’s probably because of how perfect and well-loved the predecessor is. But we think it has at least one thing on Inc: it doesn’t get bogged down in the third act by unnecessary melodrama. Nemo lying in a net on the ocean floor? Carl yelling at Dug for no reason other than to make it clear to us that he’s in the wrong (which we already know)? Andy’s toys randomly ending up in an almost garbage fire? Yeah. Pixar does this from time to time – and given that the garbage fire one is probably the worst offender, and that it’s a pretty recent movie, it looks like they haven’t quite moved on from this sort of thing yet. But other recent entries show that sometimes they definitely have changed things up: everything sad about Inside Out was so earned it isn’t even funny. Merida blubbering over her bear mother was soooooo close to being earned – if only it hadn’t dragged on quite as long as it did. And Mike and Sully’s falling out and subsequent bonding work so well with the story. By contrast, there’s just a little too much moping near the end of Inc for comfort. At least for us.
  • Also, U deserves a little more recognition for being a brave story. It’s a story of a character who has a dream that just isn’t realistic. The movie has the guts to follow through to the bitter end, where Mike realizes in pretty horrifying circumstances (as far as he knows) that he just really isn’t scary. Somehow though, it’s all OK in the end, thanks to teamwork, and Sully being good at pep talks.

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  • It’s also worth noting that erm showed this movie to her friends (all of whom were Inc fans but had also not gotten around to seeing it yet) – and let it be known that the good ending, where they find other, less conventional paths to success, hits home and hits hard for a group of millennials.
  • We enjoy that the most intimidating and scariest monsters are female – see Roz and Hardscrabble. Both of these ladies are exasperated by our heroes’ antics for very understandable reasons, and ultimately our heroes earn their grudging respect. We’re OK with this. Of course there’s also the librarian, and nobody earns her respect, and we’re even happier with that.
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4 comments

  1. Really great thoughts. I love Monsters U, as much if not more than the original.

    You’re quite right when you say that the message – sometimes you can’t achieve you’re dream – is an important one. It’s cropped up in Disney films too – Elsa wants to hide her powers, Ralph wants to be a good guy.

    Neither character ultimately can do that, but they can accept who they are and live with it. Both movies (and Monsters U) exist in a sort of post-magic world, where bippidty-boppidty-boos, while lovely, don’t exist. The only magical transformations are the ones you make for yourself, and which come about by accepting yourself.

    I think it’s summed up best by Fixer Uppers in Frozen. ‘We’re not saying you can change him, because people don’t really change.’ Heck of a big line for a studio that thrives on transformation.

    Incidentally, both Frozen and Ralph had Jennifer Lee’s involvement. Cannot wait to see what she does with A Wrinkle in Time!

    Liked by 1 person

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