Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #22

Re: Monsters, Inc. (2001)

I enjoy watching Monsters, Inc. over and over, not just because it’s hilarious (especially Mike disinfecting his eye and many other bits), but because I think this film is ultimately about turning the tables on adults who call children “monsters.” This film is about our society’s fear of children.

I think that’s the real point of the CDA and all the other paranoia of the monster world regarding kids, but also the point of Sully’s scaring of Boo near the end of the film. Monsters, Inc. is about reminding us who the real monsters are. By portraying the adults as monsters externally, the filmakers did not need to make them act like monsters (at least not all of them).

Our world is frightened to death of children, especially if they act like children. That’s the main reason why Boo is so wonderful in this film. She’s a real kid, (so to speak) not a 50-year old comedian in a kid suit.

It’s not a perfect film, but it’s right on target. Hopefully it will not be an epitaph for our culture.

I think your angle on Monsters, Inc. is brilliant, and I wish I’d thought of it myself. Obviously Mike and Sully exhibit the kind of nervous bachelor incompetence with children that’s been the butt of sitcom humor for ages — but the larger sociological context of Monstropolis does elevate their fear of Boo to the level of a cultural crisis, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, the monsters do have children of their own, don’t they? It may not actually be “Bring an Obscure Relative to Work Day” when Mike and Sully bring Boo to the Monsters, Inc. factory, but there really is a party of young monsters touring the plant.

So while monsters may be fearful of human children, it’s not obvious that the whole notion of breeding and reproduction is regarded fearfully, or that a monster “culture of death” has taken root in monster society. So that’s a catch with the theory.

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