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Can Harry Potter take the #1 spot from Monsters Inc.?
No way. 46%
Maybe in 3-5 weeks. 23%
It will take at least 6 weeks. 30%

Votes: 13

 Monsters Incorporated: Film Review and Merchandise Buyer's Guide.

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Nov 18, 2001

If you've read any of the reviews of the new film from Pixar Inc., you know that Monsters Incorporated is an instant classic. This film has appeared with almost too-perfect timing to answer the needs of children disturbed by the devastation of the US by terrorist attack, and become the number-one box-office draw in America.

Beyond teaching to small children the valuable lessons of the universality of pain, the inevitability of death, and the unavoidably bitter injustice that pervades all our lives, Monsters Incorporated is also fun for the kids. They'll want to see it again and again for the rousing songs, and for the fart jokes. The jokes in Monsters are pretty gross, but kids love that kind of thing. And of course, if you're a parent who will have to take the wee ones to a dozen or more screenings of Monsters Incorporated, you'll be glad to know that it has plenty to keep adults entertained: Pixar Inc. has striven to surpass such rivals as Toy Story and The Nightmare Before Christmas in the art cleverly weaving-in of cynical, world-weary, in-jokes that will fly right over the heads of the younger members of the audience. Those wags at Pixar, Inc. have also outshone the rest in their knack for hidden jabs at rival movie companies, such as the hilarious twitting of Disney, Inc. near the uproarious finale.


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The Set (mice not shown)

Monsters Incorporated is not only fun for the kids and their mom, or dad if he has them that weekend. Unlike any other film in recent memory, Monsters Incorporated is a gold-plated buying opportunity. There are hundreds of must-have Monsters Incorportated items for sale, most --but watch out! not all-- of them are irresistibly collectible. So while I can confidently recommend you see this movie, I can also guide you towards those most-desirable pieces that will outperform the pack in appreciation.

You're in for some surprises here: Monsters Incorporated is the film where the once-reviled Jar Jar Binks, previously seen in the disappointing fourth Star-Wars movie, turns his career around. This means that Jar Jar memorabilia that you once couldn't give away is now poised to double and triple in value and keep rising beyond that, along with Jar Jar's bank-ability as a major star.

You're probably already familiar with the basic premise of the plot: in a post-apocalypse future, the sky has been darkened in war, preventing the eponymous Monsters from obtaining the energy they need from the sun. Instead, they must place children in these sort of pods where their bodies are used as a kind of battery to store fusion-generated power. The kid's will cackle with delight when they see the wickedly clever scene, done entirely with computer-graphics, in which the bodies of the dead are liquefied and fed to the living. One of the movie's protagonists, a child name Boo (Natalie Portman) somehow "wakes up" to the reality behind the illusory world that is created in the minds of the children held in this sort of giant battery. The action takes off from there, never slowing down except for the deeply moving, show-stopping performance of the film's other star, Jar Jar Binks.

In several other scenes that are also done entirely with computer-graphics, Jar Jar literally re-invents himself before our eyes. Where once Jar Jar was a sort of pathetic clown who was given the unenviable role of trying to breathe a little fun and life into some of the most stultifying story-telling ever filmed ( Star Wars Part 4: Episode I, starring Natalie Portman ), in his new role Jar Jar shows his dramatic side. He leads us on a guided tour of depths of the human condition that few of us knew existed. Well, not the human condition, but you know, the condition of whatever the hell Jar Jar is. Where before in Star Wars Part 4 he was constrained by the institutional limitations of the Disney, Inc. corporate structure , Jar Jar now can show us that he is perhaps the actor of the generation that will come of age in the next ten years.

Before you sniff at the excellent Jar Jar memorabilia available now at prices you will never see again, stop and realize that those who hate Jar Jar are generally adults who ought not be paying so much serious attention to children's movies like Star Wars anyway. What matters is that the main audience, children, have always loved Jar Jar, and they will go on loving him in the future. Expect to see dozens more features starring Jar Jar, and expect to see top dollar paid for the Jar Jar toys that are today being foolishly cast aside. Trust me, and you will profit. And expect to see Pixar, Inc. write its name in the minds of millions of young children around the globe, and see it writ noticeably larger than Disney, Inc.'s name was written in the last several generation's psyches. The future of nihilistic, death-oriented computer-graphical movies belongs to Pixar, Inc., and their star is Jar Jar Binks.Dancing Jar Jar = $$$

Now, down to business.

What to buy? In order for collectibles to hold their value, they must be in sets. As in complete sets, to use layman's terms. If you've spent any time learning about Set Theory -- and I strongly suggest you should if you intend to be a serious collector -- you know that there is no such thing as an incomplete set. If it isn't complete, it is no set at all. This is the mind-set you need when buying up Monsters Incorporated collectibles. Get it all.

The core of any decent Monsters Incorporated collection is without a doubt the Headquarters Play-Set. You will have seen this in the incredible final sequence of the movie. Like some other scenes already mentioned, Pixar, Inc. created this scene entirely using computer-graphics, treating us to a rollicking, harrowing chase through a system of chutes and slides. It's like a water-slide on steroids and mescaline, or like an airport baggage handling system gone mad. I guarantee you've never seen anything like it before.

You've got your headquarters, then -- or do you? Now pay attention. The first thing you'll notice is that this comes with a special offer (hurry! Expires November 21!): a 26" Micky or Minnie with purchases over $100. Years from now, when the price guides list "Monsters Incorporated Headquarters Play-set" the going price will be something like "$750, or $300 without Mickey and Minnie." Remember what I said about sets? Notice also, I said Mickey and Minnie. The "hackers" of the collecting world who are the first to rip open the packaging of every collectible they randomly run across and ruin it with dog slobber will choose either a Mickey or a Minnie. Collectors get sets and a set means both dolls.

This all means we've got a $200 minimum purchase here. No problem! This is investing we're talking about, and if you don't have a $200 you can pull out of your 401k plan or your kids college fund, what are you doing with your life, my friend? Personally, I've spent $1200 on Monsters Incorporated collectibles already, and I'm still buying.

So. Next you must have both the Interactive Sulley and Mike, and the Interactive Sulley and Boo. Obviously you want all of the film's main characters, and these two parts of your set give you all of them: Mike (Robin Williams), Boo (Natalie Portman) and both Sulleys: Sulley (George Wendt) and the other Sulley (Tom Arnold). Two Sulleys? Yep, there's two of them, and they are more or less identical; don't ask me to give away too much of the plot. Go see the film.

Now we've got a Sulley, another Sulley, a Mike, a Boo, and a Headquarters. What's the damage? $165 and that's great because I know you're saying, "Hey! I've seen this movie and I know for sure that Mike never went anywhere without his damn scooter! Where the FAWK is Mike's Scooter?!" Why, right here, and at an incredible $44.99, it puts you right where you need to be to get your Minnie and Mickey, and now we're talking a real Monsters Incorporated collection. Because it is complete, it is a useful foundation to build a full portfolio of Monsters Incorporated investments.

Don't let the TERRORISTS win! Like what? My picks are a Monsters Incorporated Plush Boo in Costume, because it captures Natalie Portman's beauty so perfectly, including her Adonis-like figure. For the same reasons, a Monsters Incorporated Babblin' Boo Doll is not a bad idea at all. Caution: the same oddballs who bitched about Jar Jar will tell you that Boo is annoying, and try to de-value Boo toys. Before you listen to them, ask yourself how much their collection is really worth? Not much, right? Okay then; go buy yourself some Boo stuff.

If you know anything about computerized-graphics, you'll want this toy as a reference to the unbelievable cloth effects produced in Natalie Portman's t-shirt in the movie. The Boo character was created entirely using computer-graphicals, and because of their experience creating astounding cloth effects in the computer-generated scenes in Shrek, Pixar, Inc. had the know-how to really knock 'em dead with this. They also tried to use computer graphics to create the illusion of hair in many parts of Monsters Incorporated, but that didn't turn out so well, especially considering the standard set by rival Disney, Inc. in Final Fantasy. Overall however, Pixar, Inc. seems to realize that their main strength is in this kind of film-making; a typical Pixar, Inc. film is in fact dominated by computer-graphical images, as we've all noticed.

A final but critical part of your buying plan: if you can possibly lay your hands on any of the rare and valuable Jar Jar stuff that is still available, pounce on it now. Don't forget to pick up some McDonald's Happy Meals for the great Monsters Incorporated collectibles. Most of the characters are in the box, except for Jar Jar. He only comes in pieces, and they're inside the hamburger. Don't ask me to explain it, okay! It's some kind of marketing thing. Just pull out all the Jar Jar parts from the burger before you eat it and you should be able to put together a complete Jar Jar with no more than five Happy Meals. These are going to be worth a lot!

Re-invigorating the orange frog guy from Star Wars is only one of the treats of Monsters Incorporated. Unlike the ultra-sweet and romanticized fairy tale Shrek, this computer-graphics-heavy fantasy takes the gloves off and pulls no punches. The surface fears that all children know are real are connected to an even more real supra-reality, and shown to have a sound basis in both the guilt each child carries, and the angst of knowing that life is ultimately without meaning. Typically children are too simple to understand these sublimely awful truths, but Monsters Incorporated puts these ideas into a form that even they can understand, making it impossible for them to pull away and shirk the hideous facts.

It's almost sad, but if you think about it, do you want them to go on with their happy delusions even one minute longer? Of course not.


Terrible Review (4.00 / 6) (#8)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 18th, 2001 at 01:44:35 PM PST
This is a terrible, uninformaitve review of the film Monsters, Inc. I can't believe the reviewer was watching the same film I was.

First of all, Jar Jar is awful in this film. Cigarettes and cheap gin have reduced his once-charming tenor voice to a raspy baritone, and he has let his weight go to hell: not even the baggy caftans he wears during most of his scenes can hide his potruding potbelly. Furthermore, Jar Jar is practically phoning in his scenes here. Think back to lines like "dis beddy beddy bombad" or "meesa Jar Jar binks" or "I don't know nothin''bout birthin' no babies!", lines which brought us so much joy when he practically sang them out in Star Wars, Episode 1. Here he utters his material with the halfhearted effort of a man who just wants to collect his paycheck. He spends most of his time leering at Claudia Black, who plays Mike's medusa-haired love interest (I refuse to believe rumors of an affair between Binks and Black, magic tounge of love or no).

Binks' disappointing performance is just one reason why Monsters, Inc. is so bad. I oculd go on and on about the bad direction, the incomprehensible dialogue, (example: SULLY: "Open the pod bay doors, Mike." MIKE: "I can't do that, Sully" SULLY: "Open the pod bay doors, Mike!" MIKE: "Damn it, Sully, can't you see? YOU'RE A REPLICANT!!!" does anyone actually understand that gibberish?), or the contrived and obvious plot twists (Beleive me, I'm giving nothing away here when I reveal that the big "shocker" in the middle of the film is that Boo is really a man. No one in the audience when I saw the film was the least bit surprised. They practically telegraph it during the whole first half of the film).

Anyway, I think I've made my point. In short, stay away from this miserable film. It's just a calculated attempt to capitalize off the success of its glorious predecessor, Monsters, The Wrath Of Khan (why are the third films in trilogies always so bad?), and to sell heaps of silly toys.

We call it 'method acting' in case you dont' know. (none / 0) (#9)
by elenchos on Sun Nov 18th, 2001 at 04:40:59 PM PST
Jar Jar's viscerally realistic performance is in the direct lineage of such masterful Method Actors such as Stallone in Cop Land and of course De Niro in Raging Bull. Unless you're talking a Michael Jackson or a Britney Speares, who else has the commitment to their art that it takes to force your body into whatever kind of shape that the part demands the way Jar Jar does for this role? Jar Jar is serious about making great movies and if you couldn't see it in Star Wars 4, you can't possibly miss it in Monsters Incorporated. The movie is bursting at the seams with acting. Jar Jar alone does acting enough for the whole cast!

I suppose you could twist all that to accuse Natalie Portman of taking the easy way out here by taking a role as a toddler/man, given her basically masculine body type, but she's a young actress and it takes time to mature into the kinds of extreme acting challenges that journeymen in the craft like Jar Jar can take on. I think Natalie has it in her to take on those very challenges. You watch: before too long she will be willing to do whatever it takes, including surgical alteration, to take roles as adult women, because she loves and understands the art that much.

I suppose some day this will present the post office with the classic "thin Jar Jar or fat Jar Jar" conundrum, but that's their problem. In the mean time, we have some fine acting ahead of us to enjoy. And some damn good quality toys to invest in.

You may disagree, but I must ask you how much is your collection worth?

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

*Collection*? (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 18th, 2001 at 06:28:08 PM PST
When it comes to trading in movie and television show paraphenalia, I have found that options and futures are really the way to go. Take my word for it, once you've been burned on a Captain Janeway RealDoll ("It'll be worth a fortune in two years!" Yeah, right: damn thing's worth more to me as a tie rack), you'll definitely come to see the wisdom of hedging your risk. Think about it: who knows how much that Evil Sulley Who Lurks Behind the Dumpster At Winkie's Diner Talking Alarm Clock will be worth in 2005? You're much better off with a nice call option. Might seem to cost a little more, but worth it in terms of risk deferment.

In regards to Jar Jar's performance, you may be on to something. Maybe the whole apathetic boor act was a calculated move. He sure fooled me. Anyway, I might have just been confused by Monsters, Inc's unconventionally structured backwards narrative.

As for Ms. Portman, I hope she doesn't have to resort to anything as drastic as plastic surgery in order to take on women's roles. It sure didn't help Michael Jackson.

link... (none / 0) (#11)
by chrismac on Tue Nov 20th, 2001 at 05:34:16 PM PST
i laughed when i saw the pixar link to being that i'm on the staff, that just about made my day - i love seeing sites i recognize in my referrer logs...


chris mac

chris mac:,,

rivals? (none / 0) (#12)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 22nd, 2001 at 04:36:56 AM PST
Pixar Inc. has striven to surpass such rivals as Toy Story

Disney and Pixar were responsible for Toy Story 1 & 2 and a Bug's Life. Pixar is an animation studio. It is not a "movie studio". They have only produced short films. These usually appear just before the feature presentation or in the ads.


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