Movie #5: Monsters, Inc. (2001)

by on Mar.22, 2011, under Syndicated from the Web

“Kids these days. They just don’t get scared like they used to.”

Unlike the other creatures-in-the-closet movie on our list, this one is definitely for the youngest ones in the family. Although my children have never expressed any fears about monsters in their closets, I wondered when we watched this one if it might actually put that idea into their heads. I’m happy to report that it didn’t – but ever since we watched it, I have made sure their closets are closed when they go to bed. You know, just in case. You never know.


  • Rating: G
  • Minimum Recommended Age: 5 (Common Sense Media: On for ages 5 and up, Movie Mom: All ages)
  • Quality Rating: 83.7% (Parent Previews Overall Grade: A-, Common Sense Media stars: 4, Rotten Tomatoes rating: 7.9)
  • Number of Lists Recommend: 8
  • Sex/Violence/Profanity:

    Screen It!:

    Language includes “Oh, nuts,” “Shut up,” “What a creep,” “Nuts” (crazy), “You idiot,” “Jerk” and “Stupid, pathetic waste.”

    Violence (from Plugged In):
    One scene in particular that will alarm some children has one monster battering down a door to attack Sulley and Mike. Additionally, a nightmarish machine built to “extract screams” is tried out in a couple of scenes. The monsters are prone to fighting each other from time to time. Sometimes for fun. Other times in the grip of an evil rage. Invisible when he chooses to be, Randall attacks Sulley. Sulley fights back. Randall slams Mike against a wall and twists his arms into a painful position. In turn, Mike slams a door on Randall, yelling, “I hope that hurt, lizard-boy.” Sulley slides, tumbles and crashes down a snow-packed mountain. And the whole gang goes for a wild ride on fast-moving conveyer belts strung high in the air. Even Boo gets in on the action and beats Randall over the head with a toy baseball bat.

  • Running Time: 93 minutes
  • What does it have to do with Halloween? Nothing


Monsters, Inc. is the largest scare factory in the monster world and the top kid Scarer is James P. Sullivan, a huge intimidating monster with blue fur, large purple spots and horns, known as “Sulley” to his friends. His Scare Assistant, best friend and roommate is Mike Wazowski, a lime green, opinionated, feisty, one-eyed monster. Scaring children isn’t such an easy job–monsters believe children are toxic and that direct contact with them would be catastrophic. Inside the factory can also be found: the factory’s crab-like CEO, the beguiling serpent-haired receptionist Celia, and the sarcastic chameleon monster, Randall Boggs, who schemes to replace Sully as Monsters, Inc.’s top Scarer. Visiting from the human world is Boo, a tiny girl who turns the monster world upside-down.

Watch Out For

Movie Mom:
Parents should know that there is some mild peril. A scene in which biohazard workers in yellow jumpsuits and hoods disinfect a monster who came in contact with a child’s sock is scarier now than it would have been before the terrorist attacks and the nightly news about anthrax. Parents should be prepared for questions. There is a little bit of potty humor. All of the “scarers” are male.
Scenes where Mike and Boo are threatened by an ominous machine could upset very young children. So, with a cautionary note that some scenes may upset very young children, “Monsters, Inc.” is a welcome addition to family entertainment.

Plugged In:
Fantasy violence is really the only thing that’s scary about Monsters, Inc. But that may be significant for families since the film’s storytelling is skewed to a younger audience than Toy Story’s was. Beyond that, the adorable Boo will win over every parents’ heart the moment they meet her. John Goodman is about as comfortable and cuddly as you could ever want a monster to be. And nowhere to be seen are the fiends of sexual content, profane language and substance abuse. Still, there’s that nagging thing about monsters producing fuel from innocent children’s screams. A plot twist near the end resolves that in a more-than-satisfactory way.

Mr. Bile


Sully is frightened by Boo

Boo is sad

Mike, Sully and Boo hide from Randall

Celia is mad at Mike

Randall twists Mike’s arms

Sully thinks Boo is getting crushed

Sully and Boo hide from Randall

Randall uses the Scream Extractor on Mike

Sully lets out a roar

Boo is frightened by Sully

Mr. Waternoose betrays Mike and Sully

Randall straps Boo into the Scream Extractor

Boo in the Scream Extractor

Sully is choked by Randall

Randall gets Boo

Boo beats up Randall

Mr. Waternoose threatens Sully

Screencaps courtesy of newsie__nympho

Talk About It

Common Sense Media:
* Families can talk about what Sulley learns about kids and how he changes the factory for the better in the end.
* They can also talk about how each kid was scared by a certain kind of monster. Why was Boo scared of Randall and not Sulley? Why was Sulley considered such a top-notch scarer then?
* What would make you laugh the hardest if it came out of your closet?

Competition, greed, kidnapping, conspiracy, strange worlds

Parent Previews:
Is it easy to be afraid of things we don’t understand? How did Sulley’s attitude change when he got to know Boo? How could you help someone who is afraid of the dark?

Can you find scenes in the movie that spoof other forms of film? What about the entry scene of the scare monsters or the power company’s T.V. commercial?

# Why are the monsters being trained to infiltrate the bedrooms of sleeping human children?
# Why are the monsters so afraid of human children?
# Why are Sulley and Randall considered to be rivals?
# What is Boo’s actual name?
# Who was Roz…really?
# I heard that the restaurant where Mike and Celia had dinner is named after someone famous. Who?

Of Note

  • Monsters, Inc. won the Academy Award for Best Song (Randy Newman, after 15 previous nominations, for If I Didn’t Have You). It was also nominated for Best Animated Feature (lost to Shrek), and Best Music, Original Score (lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring).
  • 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.
  • This is the fourth movie to feature both John Goodman and Steve Buscemi and is the first of the four not to be directed and produced by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
  • It normally took 11 to 12 hours to render a single frame of Sulley because of his 2.3 million individually animated hair strands (Total number of hairs: 2,320,413).
  • Mary Gibbs was so young that it proved difficult to get her to stand in the recording studio and act her lines. Instead, they simply followed her around with a microphone and cut Boo’s lines together from the things she said while she played.
  • Bob Peterson, the movie’s story supervisor, provided the temporary voice of Roz, the green secretary, during production. The nasal, sing-song voice proved to be such a success that they kept it in the final film.


“Monsters, Inc.” airs throughout October on Starz


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