Monsters, Inc. turned fifteen today…
Monsters, Inc. was actually the very film that got me into Pixar. I was ten, already a huge Disney fan, but for some reason didn’t quite connect with the works of the hopping lamp just yet. I didn’t pop in my Toy Story and Toy Story 2 VHS tapes as much back in the day, and the only thing from A Bug’s Life I had was the video game, which I played the heck out of. Not sure why I never asked for the VHS for Christmas.
Anyways, Monsters, Inc. didn’t captivate me for some reason in the theaters. I think it was because I was, shockingly, burnt out on constantly going to the cinema. Nowadays, I wish for that kind of thing! No, I work at a theater and I have little time for flicks these days, ironically. I’m often asked “But you work at a movie theater, why don’t you see the movies?” Yeah, try seeing 30 minutes of a movie during your shift! Also, try having those hours, college, and tons of other responsibilities. Trips to the flicks aren’t quite doable all the time. Anyways, at 9 years old, I was mentally 6, and I got tired of just doing the same thing over and over, and it didn’t help that 90% of the movies we saw were shovelware (like… See Spot Run. Anyone remember that? David Arquette falls in dog crap? Ha ha funny?) or things that were then out of my wheelhouse (Zoolander). When I got the DVD for Christmas in 2002, I fell in love with it.
I still can’t believe to this day that it didn’t do it for me in theaters, but I spun the DVD nonstop… The movie, the movie with the commentary, all the bonus features, back when 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD sets were all the rage… Then I saw that the next Pixar movie, just mere months away, was a colorful fish movie… Yep, hooked I was. I rewatched the other Pixars, did some catch-up work, I was now a fan…
Since today was its big anniversary, of course someone had to ask director Pete Docter about a sequel…
Docter pretty much gave us the “never say never” answer, literally. He added, “We purposely went with a prequel for Monsters University because we didn’t want to answer some of the questions about what happens to Boo, and how does she grow up, and things like that. It would have to be really compelling, which is hopefully the benchmark for all of our sequels, anyway… “
He’s spot on. Monsters, Inc., like his other Pixar greats, has a perfect ending. While something like Finding Nemo has a great and suitable ending, Monsters, Inc. to me just shouldn’t get a sequel. Ever. I feel the same about Up and Inside Out. Some would disagree there, they’d say that Riley’s teenage and adult years should be explored, I say leave her alone and make an Inside Out sequel set inside someone else’s head.
I’m glad that they took the prequel route. Others might not have wanted a prequel, but I think going that route was smart. Imagine possibly tainting such a perfect ending? They didn’t, in fact, I really felt that the prequel – which the Internet predictably deemed a big ol’ failure – completed the original, a film that did not need completing in the first place. I honestly felt that Mike got a great story arc in that film, but on the whole the film wasn’t perfect. A little far from the inventive picture Monsters, Inc. was, I still felt Monsters University added up as solid, well-made entertainment. Not to mention, it was a bright spot in what I felt was a mediocre year for animation.
Pixar, for all the guff they get over sequels, still has the nerve to wait, to go through with them when they want to. Disney asks, like Dash does in The Incredibles: “Are we there yet?” “We get there when we get there!” Let’s shuffle Monsters U and Finding Dory away, those two movies were Circle 7 legal clean-up, and Cars was the sacrificial lamb. Toy Story 4 was probably requested by Disney since the day Toy Story 3 came out in 2010, but it wasn’t officially announced until 2014, it entered development in 2012, and the film’s not due out until the end of the decade. Another studio would’ve fired right through it, not Pixar. They’re making you wait, because they want to get it right.
Docter spoke about Toy Story 4 as well, a film I’m actually very skeptical of. Unusual, because I’m usually not like this with any upcoming Pixar film, even Cars 3.
“It’s hard, because as we get in there, we realize you don’t want this to just be another regurgitation of something we’ve seen. We’ve really plumbed the depths of these characters with Woody and Buzz, so to find something new that hasn’t been done, I feel like we’re onto it now. But it’s taken some real deep investigative work…
“The last I saw, those were still elements that they’re playing with… Again, it brings it to something that you haven’t seen before, which I think is what people want. On the one hand, you like the familiarity, you like these characters, you want to see them again — but if it was the same movie or it felt like, ‘Eh, it was a little bit like Toy Story 2, then we’re kind of sunk.”
Funny, some would say that Toy Story 3 rung a little close to Toy Story 2 in parts. Honestly, I feel like Pixar’s sequels aren’t carbon copies of their predecessors, they only share similar ideas and beats. (i.e. with Toy Story, “we gotta get back to Andy’s before [so-and-so] happens!”) With a Monsters, Inc. sequel, I don’t want to see Sulley, Mike, or Boo return…
Leave their story alone. Go outside of their apartment or the company, and introduce us to a whole slew of new characters that we’ve never met before.
This is something they should’ve done with Cars 2, if they wanted automobile spy action. Forget Radiator Springs, for that story ended well. That way, they wouldn’t have had a two-movies-mashed-into-one mess. Sulley and Mike’s story is complete, so show me another part of Monstropolis. Or go outside the big city! When I was 10, I spun my Monsters, Inc. DVD religiously and watched the bonus features nonstop. Yes, at a young age I dug into this stuff, and I really wanted to know back then… What was going on outside of Monstropolis?
I feel that Pixar set up this big world and they have yet to really crack it. I wouldn’t mind a new film that explores that world, and gives us new characters. Not dissimilar to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’ve talked about this before many times, I still feel the same: Revisit the world, but tell new stories with new characters.
That, I think, would make for a knockout Monsters, Inc. follow-up. They could do this with Cars as well, as you know Disney will press press press them for more if Cars 3 repeats the success of its predecessors, which it most likely will. Big Disney’s the problem in this day and age. The Disney of today loves franchises, so much that they’ll ask for things like fourth Toy Story installments and sequels to films that should perhaps be left alone. Star Wars and Marvel ain’t enough, they gotta have more… Moooore…. Mooooooooooore!
To me, the best possible option is telling new stories set in these worlds they’ve created if there’s nothing more to add to pre-existing ones. Also, Pixar should look into creating films that actually set up sequels. Something like their equivalent of Star Wars or The Hobbit or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. A story that has a strong beginning, middle, and end, but deliberately sets up a bigger story with more chapters.
What say you on all this Monsters, Inc. sequel talk?