The Man Behind Pixar’s Latest Monster

by publicationarchive

By Hubert VigillaSenior Staff Writer

In their latest effort, Monsters, Inc., animated film-giant Pixarcontinues its tradition of not disappointing audiences. Filled withsome more sophisticated humor for the adults, cute stuff for thekids, and the occasional in-joke, Monsters, Inc. will likely be thefirst hit in the post-fall movie doldrums.

The story centers around James P. Sullivan, a.k.a. Sulley (voicedby John Goodman), a large, horned blue beast, and his friend MikeWazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal), a diminutive, green cyclops. Thetwo buddies work for a titular energy company that powers the worldthrough the screams of children. As if the power crisis in the landof monsters wasn’t enough, things get worse when a little girlmanages to waddle over from our world to theirs. It’s up to Sulleyand Mike to figure out what to do with her before she’s captured bythe bio-suit-wearing contamination squad.

“There were two things that I knew as a kid: one, that my toyscame to life when I wasn’t in the room; and two, that there weremonsters in my closet waiting to scare me at night,” says co-directorPeter Docter, whose previous Pixar credits include being one of thewriters for two small films you may have heard of: “Toy Story” and”Toy Story 2.”

Afilm five years in the making, the first half of this time period wasspent concerned with script and character elements rather than layingdown character models on million-dollar computers.

“If you don’t have the foundation of great characters, abelievable world and an entertaining storyline, it might be aninteresting intellectual exercise, but nothing beyond that,” he said.”No great technical achievement is ever going to make up for a badstory.”

Which is not to say that Monsters, Inc. does not have its share ofeye-popping, visual candy. The furry Sulley is a technicalachievement in himself when one looks at the individually definedstands of hair coming off his robust frame.

Not only does Monsters, Inc. continue to show the new technicalpinnacles in digital animation, but it also does some revolutionarythings in terms of voice recording.

“Because the film called for the two characters to be bestfriends, roommates, knowing each other since kindergarten, I thoughtit’d be great to get these two guys together.”

So rather than using the traditional method of having an actorrecord his lines in solitary confinement, Docter brought in bothCrystal and Goodman to record their lines together on some occasions,to interact with each other and improvise adding new layers to therelationship between the big blue boy and his one-eyed buddy.

A genuinely good kick-off for the winter movie season, bothvisually and script-wise, Monsters, Inc. is well-worth its five yearsof production. Bring a kid with you, hell, bring five.

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