Monsters, Inc. is a 2001 American computer-animated film and the fourth feature-length film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. It was directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Lee Unkrich and David Silverman, and written by Jill Culton, Peter Docter, Ralph Eggleston, Dan Gerson, Jeff Pidgeon, Rhett Reese, Jonathan Roberts, and Andrew Stanton. The starring voices are John Goodman and Billy Crystal as monsters who scare children for a living, Mary Gibbs as a little girl who enters the monster world, Steve Buscemi as a rival monster, andJames Coburn as a monster businessman.
The film was released to theatres by Walt Disney Pictures in the United States on November 2, 2001, in Australia on December 26, 2001, and in the United Kingdom on February 8, 2002. It was a commercial and critical success, grossing over $525,366,597 worldwide. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes also reported extremely positive reviews with a 95% approval rating.
A sequel is set for a November 2, 2012 release.
The story takes place in Monstropolis, a city populated entirely by monsters. Monstropolis is not part of the human world, but it can be connected to children's bedrooms through their closet doors. When a door is properly activated, it becomes a portal between the monster world and the human world. The city's power supply is provided by Monsters, Inc., a utility company that employs monsters to scare children and extract energy from their screams. The company has a huge warehouse full of doors, work areas called "scare floors" where the doors are activated, and a special training room in which employees practice their scare skills. The company's best scarer is James "Sulley" Sullivan (Goodman), whose assistant is his best friend, Michael "Mike" Wazowski (Crystal). Sulley's main rival is Randall Boggs (Buscemi), and the company's CEO is Henry J. Waternoose III (Coburn). Monstropolis is in the middle of an energy crisis because children are harder to scare than they used to be.
One day, Sulley sees an activated door on his scare floor after the workday has ended. He finds no one in the room behind the door, but a little two-year-old girl (Gibbs) follows him back into the monster world. Far from being scared, she calls him "Kitty" and delights in playing with him. Since monsters believe human beings are dangerously toxic, Sulley repeatedly returns the girl to her room, but she keeps following him back, and Randall eventually deactivates the door. She is discovered when Sulley takes her to find Mike, so Sulley and Mike hide her in Sulley's home while the Child Detection Agency (CDA) conducts a city-wide search for her. Sulley names her "Boo".
The next morning, Sully and Mike disguise Boo in a monster costume and sneak her into work. Randall agrees to help them return her to her bedroom, but when Mike enters the room, Randall captures him in a box, believing he is Boo. Randall intends to kidnap Boo and subject her to a device that extracts her screams.
What follows is a sequence of battles, chases, and mishaps in which Sully and Mike try to protect Boo from Randall and his scream machine. Waternoose reveals that he is in cahoots with Randall and sends Sully and Mike to the Himalayas, where they meet theAbominable Snowman (John Ratzenberger), and the sequence ends with a chase through the company's roller-coaster-like door-moving system. When the energy in Boo's laughter activates the doors in storage, the chase passes in and out of the human world. Finally, Sulley and Boo defeat Randall. Sully throws Randall through the door of a caravan trailer, where a woman beats Randall with a shovel, and Mike destroys the door to make sure Randall never comes back.
When Sulley and Mike bring Boo and her door to the scare floor, Waternoose is waiting to arrest them with a gang of CDA agents, but Mike leads the agents away by fleeing with Boo's monster costume, and Sulley escapes with Boo and the door. When Waternoose follows Sulley and Boo, Sulley activates the door, and when Waternoose follows them into the room behind the door, he tells Sulley he is willing to kidnap children in order to save the company. However, rather than connecting Boo's door to her bedroom, Sulley connected it to the Monsters, Inc. training room, which is equipped with a video monitoring system. Mike has recorded Waternoose's confession, and after he replays the confession, CDA agents arrest Waternoose.
With the scream-machine plot foiled, the CDA agents call in their leader, who has been working undercover as Roz (Bob Peterson), the company's bookkeeper. Mike says goodbye to Boo and Sulley returns her to her bedroom, then Roz has the door shredded, preventing monsters from ever visiting Boo again. Sulley keeps one of the wood splinters as a memento.
Some time later, Sulley is the CEO of Monsters, Inc., and the company is thriving under his policy of having monsters make children laugh instead of scaring them. Meanwhile, Mike has collected and reassembled the pieces of Boo's shredded door. When Sulley puts his piece in its place, the door is activated again, and when he peeks into Boo's room, she greets him as he smiles.
The credits are accompanied by a series of simulated outtakes and an amateur performance a stage play by Mike and other Monsters, Inc. employees.
- John Goodman as James P. "Sulley" Sullivan, a large furry blue monster with horns and purple spots. Even though he excels at scaring children, he is kind-hearted and thoughtful by nature.
- Billy Crystal as Michael "Mike" Wazowski, a green creature with a ball-shaped body, a single large eyeball, and skinny arms and legs. He runs Sully's station on the scare floor, and they are close friends. Mike has an outgoing personality and is dating Celia Mae. He makes cameo appearances in Finding Nemo, Cars, WALL-E and Toy Story 3.
- Mary Gibbs as "Boo", a 2-year-old human girl. She is unafraid of any monster except Randall, who regularly scared her from her closet. The book based on the film gives Boo's "real" name as Mary Gibbs, the name of her voice actress. In the film, Boo shows Sulley a drawing of Randall with her name "Mary" in a corner.
- Steve Buscemi as Randall Boggs, a multi-legged lizard-shaped monster with a chameleon-like ability to change skin color and become invisible. He is Sulley's rival in scream collection.
- James Coburn as Henry J. Waternoose III, a crab-like monster with many eyes. At the start of the film, he is CEO of Monsters, Inc, the job having been in his blue-blood family for generations. This was James Coburn's last role in an animated work.
- Jennifer Tilly as Celia Mae, a Medusa-like monster with snakes for hair. She is Mike's girlfriend and receptionist for Monsters, Inc..
- Bob Peterson as Roz, a slug-like monster whose voice sounds like Selma Diamond. She is the administrative clerk for Scare floor F. At the end of the film she turns out to be the Child Detection Agency's (CDA) "Number One", working undercover for years to reveal the child kidnap plot.
- John Ratzenberger as the Abominable Snowman, a yeti banished to the Himalayas.
- Frank Oz as the three-eyed Fungus, Randal's assistant and reluctant participant in the plot.
- Dan Gerson as Needleman and Smitty, two goofy monsters with cracking voices who work as janitors. They operate the "door shredder" when required.
- Bonnie Hunt as Ms. Flint, a snake-like monster who trains new monsters to scare children.
- Samuel Lord Black as the furry George Sanderson, assisted by "Charlie". He is the butt of a running gag in which he repeatedly contacts human artifacts by accident, triggering "2319" incidents and humorously overblown reactions by the CDA.
The idea for Monsters, Inc. started with a lunch in 1994. At this lunch was John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft. One of the ideas that came out of the brainstorming session was a film about monsters. Docter's original idea revolved around a 30-year old man dealing with monsters, which he drew in a book as a child, coming back to bother him as an adult. Each monster represented a fear he had and conquering those fears caused the monsters to eventually disappear.
Docter started working on the script in 1996 and with Harley Jessup, Jill Culton and Jeff Pidgeon completed a draft treatment in February 1997. The initial story did not have the character of Mike Wazowski. He wasn't added until a story review meeting between Pixar and Disney in April 1998. The film went into production in 2000.
The release of Monsters, Inc. was almost delayed by a lawsuit brought by Lori Madrid against Pixar, Disney and Chronicle Books. The suit alleged the defendants had stolen her story There's a Boy in My Closet, which she had mailed out in October 1999 to a number of publishers, including Chronicle Books. The plaintiffs had requested a temporary injunction against the release of the film. Judge Clarence Brimmer, Jr. had a hearing on the injunction on November 1, 2001, the day before the film was to be released. He judged against the injunction, and the entire suit was thrown out on June 26, 2002.
Another lawsuit, by Stanley Mouse, alleged that the characters of Mike and Sulley were based on drawings he had tried to sell Hollywood in 1998.
The film received near universal critical acclaim. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 164 reviews, with an average score of 7.9/10. The critical consensus is: Even though Monsters, Inc lacks the sophistication of the Toy Story series, it is a still delight for children of all ages. Among Rotten Tomatoes' Cream of the Crop, which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television, and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 88% based on 33 reviews. Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 78 based on 34 reviews.
Charles Taylor from Salon.com states: "It's agreeable and often funny, and adults who take their kids to see it might be surprised to find themselves having a pretty good time." A. O. Scott from The New York Times gave a positive review saying: "There hasn't been a film in years to use creative energy as efficiently as Monsters, Inc." Mike Clark from USA Today also gave a positive review saying: "Though the comedy is sometimes more frenetic than inspired and viewer emotions are rarely touched to any notable degree, the movie is as visually inventive as its Pixar predecessors." Reelviews film critic James Berardinelli, who gave the film 3 1/2 stars out of 4 wrote: "Monsters, Inc. is one of those rare family films that parents can enjoy (rather than endure) along with their kids."  Roger Ebert, film critic from Chicago Sun-Times, while praising the movie with 3 out of 4 stars, wrote: "Monsters, Inc. is cheerful, high-energy fun, and like the other Pixar movies, has a running supply of gags and references aimed at grownups." Lisa Schwarzbaum, a film critic for the Entertainment Weekly gave a B for the movie and wrote: "Everything from Pixar Animation Studios, the snazzy, cutting-edge computer animation outfit, looks really, really terrific, and unspools with a liberated, heppest-moms-and-dads-on-the-block iconoclasm."
Monsters, Inc. ranked number one at the box office its opening weekend, grossing $62,577,067 in North America. The film had a small drop-off of 27.2% over its second weekend, earning another $45,551,028. In its third weekend, the film experienced a larger decline of 50.1%, placing itself in the second position just after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. However, in its fourth weekend, there was an increase of 5.9%. Making $24,055,001 that weekend, it is the seventh biggest fourth weekend ever for a film. As of September 26, 2002, the film has a total of $255,873,250 in the United States and Canada and $269,493,347 in other territories for a worldwide gross of $525,366,597.The film is Pixar's sixth highest grossing movie worldwide and fifth in North America.
Monsters, Inc. was featured on Happy Meal toys, it was also featured on Tropicana with stickers shaped rectangularly.
The score was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the song "If I Didn't Have You" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Awards and nominations
Monsters, Inc. won the Academy Award for Best Song (Randy Newman, after 15 previous nominations, for If I Didn't Have You). It was one of the first animated films to be nominated for Best Animated Feature (lost to Shrek). It was also nominated for Best Music, Original Score (lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring).
References to other Pixar films
There are numerous references to other Pixar films to be found in Monsters, Inc.; one example is that near the end of the film, Boo hands Sulley a Jessie doll from Toy Story 2, the Luxo ball, and a plush of Nemo from Finding Nemo. Since Finding Nemo was the Pixar film that followed Monsters, Inc., it was a sneak peek to the upcoming film. When Randall is practicing his camouflage ability, one of the drop backgrounds is the distinctive cloud pattern from Toy Story. Another is when Randall arrives in the trailer, it is the trailer from A Bug's Life, and the pizza delivery truck from Toy Story is seen sitting next to it.
One month after the movie's theatrical release (on December 7, 2001) a version with alternative end credits was brought into theaters. There, the credits are accompanied by a "blooper reel", followed by the musical "Put That Thing Back Where it Came From or So Help Me", performed by the cast. This version can be found as a separate feature on the Collector's Edition DVD and in the credits of the 4:3 fullscreen DVD version, as well as the end credits of the R2-R5 widescreen version for Eastern Europe.
As is common for Pixar movies, international versions differ in the contents. Many English inscriptions are either removed or replaced by more generic symbols, especially in Monstropolis and at the Scare Floor. For instance, the "Stalk/Don't Stalk" traffic light is replaced by a green two-headed monster (for "Stalk") and a forbidding red hand (for "Don't Stalk"). Additionally, an animation of Sulley telling Boo to go to sleep was changed for the non-English version, as in the U.S. version, he holds up two fingers to illustrate "to" (since "two" and "to" are English homonyms) in "You - go - to - sleep". Several European DVDs contain only the "international" version, whereas the U.S. DVDs and U.S./U.K. BluRay contain the "U.S." version. Some of the examples for alternative angles can be seen in the bonus material of the 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray of the film.