Saturday 19 January 2013
Back in business: "Monsters, Inc. 3D"
Monsters, Inc. has been reissued in 3D this weekend, as part of Disney's ongoing project to shore up its stock value while it churns out Tinkerbell sequels, Brave and Cars 2, and by way of pre-emptive promotion for July's sequel Monsters University. Upon its release back in 2001, the original suffered from not having either of the words "Toy" or "Story" in its title: up against the first two entries in that series, any CG animation was likely to come up short, no matter that this one gave good toddler (which presumably explains its enduring popularity among very young viewers) and featured what remains Pixar's finest voice cast outside of the Toy Stories, Messrs. Crystal, Goodman, Buscemi and Tilly all bringing distinctive schtick into the studio. A decade or so on, it still looks to me like the beginning of something, rather than a high watermark for its makers: narratively, it's beholden to the "unlikely parenting" model tried and tested in the likes of Three Men and a Baby and TV's My Two Dads. (In the context, Sully is but a furrier Greg Evigan.)
Pixar would refine this mode of storytelling over the next few years, first with Finding Nemo, then with The Incredibles, even more progressive texts on fatherhood and child-rearing; here, any resonant subtext tends to be obscured by business, of one form or another - more specifically, the colour and movement made possible by the then-new technology. (The climactic swing-dash-leap through a universe of bedroom doors is an obvious showcase for the 3D algorithms, updating This is Cinerama's rollercoaster ride for those not old enough to have seen it.) Still, it's almost anathema to be grumpy about these re-releases, especially one this sweet and funny, from a time when Pixar poured more love and effort into their end-credit outtakes than it now does into its features: what distinguishes Monsters, Inc. from (most of) what's come since is the heart that can be discerned beneath its relentless to-ing and fro-ing, and beating right up there in the centre of the screen in its near-perfect closing seconds.
Monsters, Inc. 3D is in cinemas nationwide.