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- See also: Monsters, Inc. (company)
- "We Scare Because We Care"
Monsters, Inc. is set in Monstropolis, a city inhabited by monsters, some of whom are those who emerge from bedroom closets to scare human children. This is used to collect the screams of kids, which power the city. The main power company in the city is called Monsters, Inc. The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer is a crab-like monster, Henry J. Waternoose III. The top scarer at Monsters, Inc. is James P. Sullivan, aka "Sulley", a blue-furred giant who is partnered with the green, one-eyed Mike Wazowski.
The two of them are best friends and roommates. Sulley is a gentle and easy-going creature, while Mike is obsessed with his car and dreams of marrying his girlfriend, the Medusa-like Celia Mae. Sulley's main rival as a scarer is the chameleon-like Randall Boggs who possesses the ability to change the color of his skin to match his surroundings.
As the two train and head off to work, their discussion reveals that the city is suffering a scream shortage because children have become desensitized to fear by an over-exposure to television. After they arrive at the Monsters, Inc. work floor we are shown that monsters can call up and travel through any child's door, thus being able to sneak in to bedrooms around the world and collect screams. In order to allow Mike to take out his girlfriend, Sulley agrees to stay at work late and turn in his paperwork. He finds a lone door on the work floor after hours, a violation of policy.
An investigation leads to a small human girl coming through into the monster world. Sulley is frightened, as it is believed all human children are toxic to monsters. After three attempts to put her back, he attempts to take the girl to Mike, who is enjoying a romantic dinner with his girlfriend at Harryhausen's. The girl escapes and is seen, causing mass panic and alerting the Child Detection Agency (CDA). The two grab her and barely make it home.
The girl stays overnight and is soon named Boo (for her habit of saying "Boo!" all the time). The two come to know she is not dangerous as once thought, but they still plan to return her the next day. She is disguised as a monster and they sneak her inside Monsters, Inc. Mike wants to toss her in any old door, but Sulley wants to return her to her home. A mistake gets Mike kidnapped by Randall, who had intended to take Boo. Randall has created a machine to extract screams straight from kidnapped kids. Sulley and Mike tell everything to Waternoose. However, it turns out that Waternoose is in on Randall's scheme. Because of the decline in productivity, he fears for the company's future, and sees Randall's machine as the only way of ensuring Monsters Inc's survival. Waternoose betrays them, banishing the two to the Himalayas.
The two stay with the Yeti until Sulley learns of a village down below. After an argument with Mike, he sneaks back to the monster world that way. Mike soon follows. They confront Randall and attempt to rescue Boo. In the end Mike and Sulley send Randall to a motor home in a Louisiana swamp, where he is beaten senseless with a shovel by the family living inside (who mistake him for an alligator). Mike and Sulley destroy the door Randall went through, thus trapping him.
Mike and Sulley trick Waternoose into exposing himself to the CDA, whose true leader is Roz, the scare floor secretary. Boo is sent home and her door is put through a grinder. Sulley comes to realize that laughter is more powerful than screams and the company is redefined. Sulley becomes the new Chairman and CEO, and the monsters now enter the doors to entertain the kids as comedians, resulting in ample energy for the monster world. In secret, Mike also has Boo's door reassembled. Sulley takes one more peek inside and Boo is heard but not seen, while Sulley has a surprised and happy smile on his face.
- John Goodman: James P. "Sulley" Sullivan
- Billy Crystal: Michael "Mike" Wazowski
- Mary Gibbs: Boo
- James Coburn: Henry J. Waternoose III
- Jennifer Tilly: Celia Mae
- Bob Peterson: Roz
- Steve Buscemi: Randall Boggs
- John Ratzenberger: Yeti
- Bonnie Hunt: Flint
- Jeff Pidgeon: Bile
- Frank Oz: Fungus
- Daniel Gerson: Needleman and Smitty
- Steve Susskind: Jerry
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 movie about monsters. 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 of 1998. The movie 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 movie was to be released. He judged against the injunction, and the entire suit was thrown out on June, 26, 2002.
The film was given a 95% on the Rotten Tomatoes review site, saying it's not as sophisticated as the Toy Story series but a fun film for children of all ages.
- See also: Monsters, Inc. Awards
- Monsters, Inc. won the Academy Award for Best Song (Randy Newman for "If I Didn't Have You"). The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature, Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing and Best Music, Original Score.
- Monsters, Inc. and Shrek are the first pair of CG animated movies to win Academy Awards in the same year (Monsters, Inc. for Best Song of 2001, and Shrek for Best Animated Feature of 2001).
Attached short films
For the Birds
The theatrical and video/DVD release of the film included For the Birds, a Pixar short made in 2000, a year before this film was released.
Mike's New Car
The video/DVD release also includes Mike's New Car, a short starring Mike and Sulley.
3D Re-release Details
The conversion to 3D made sense to producers and developers especially considering the extensive scenes in the movie involving undending moving doors. Joshua Hollander and Bob Whitehill, along with a team of 14 pros spent a year continuously recreating the world, characters, and story into 3D. Pete Doctor, the director, mentions that the film was always though of in 3D and that the transition was easy. Doctor insists the movie will be comfortable to watch (no strain), consistent (enhancing, not changing), and captivating (immersive). Each scene was taken in and re-shot, determine how much of the 3D effect was necessary and when to hold back for dramatic effect.
Some problems arose with certain images throughout the movie when converting to 3D: for example, there is a scene in the movie with paintings that have no 3D information to proces; these problems had to be reworked from scratch. Sulley's hair was also problematic as each hair had to be randomly generated when it came to 3D movement; they had to make it as close as possible but could not replicate it.
- A manga version of Monsters, Inc. was produced by Hiromi Yamafuji and distributed in Kodansha's Comic Bon Bon magazine in Japan; the manga is published in English by TOKYOPOP.
- Feld Entertainment currently tours a Monsters, Inc. edition of their Disney on Ice skating tour.
- A series of video games, and a multi-platform video game were created, based on the movie.
- A short was made by Pixar in 2002, Mike's New Car.
- In Cars, one of the films that Mack watches at the end is called Monster Trucks, Inc. in which Mike is a one-eyed car, Sulley is a monster truck, and the Abominable Snowman is now the Abominable Snowplow.
- A four issue sequel comic book miniseries, Monsters Inc: Laugh Factory, published by Boom! Studios
Theme park attractions
Monsters, Inc. has inspired three attractions at Walt Disney theme parks.
- In 2006, "Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!" opened at Disney's California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The dark ride was developed to boost the theme park's lagging attendance, and was quite successful in doing so, at least for a period of time.
- In 2007, "Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor" opened at the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The show is improvisational in nature, and features the opportunity for guests to interact with the monster comedians, and even submit jokes of their own via text message. 
- In 2009, "Monsters, Inc: Ride And Go Seek" opened at Tokyo Disneyland at the Tokyo Disney Resort in Chiba, Japan. Following the format of the California dark ride, "Ride and Go Seek" is an extended version with enhanced effects.
One Pixar tradition is to create trailers for their films that do not contain footage from the released film. Trailers for this film include:
- Sulley and Mike stumble into the wrong bedroom, after Mike misreads Mongolia as Magnolia. Sulley berates Mike for making the mistake, possibly due to his lack of knowledge in geography. Mike does not take this lightly, and sees it as Sulley teasing him for having one eye. But Sulley makes amends with Mike, and goes back to the canteen for some doughnuts. Mike briefly stays behind, but quickly changes his mind when a dog begins growling at him offscreen. Sulley promptly grabs Mike, and they return to Monsters. Inc. The background music is taken from the 1988 comedy Midnight Run, the theme of character Alonzo Moseley, who was played by actor Yaphet Kotto.
- In a preview shown before the first Harry Potter film, Sulley is shown playing charades with Mike, but Mike is unable to guess the phrase "Harry Potter." The clip never specifically mentions Harry Potter, but the end states that Monsters, Inc. is playing right next door. Afterwords, Mike attempts to charade, but a bored Sulley quickly and correctly guesses Star Wars. A bewildered Mike asks how he does it.