The workaday beasts of 2001’s Monsters, Inc. powered their world by converting human children¹s screams into energy — only to confront a Monstropolis-wide scream shortage when kids started getting too jaded to spook easily. With this year’s 3-D re-release of the movie in anticipation of the 2013 prequel Monsters University, Pixar faces the possibility of a similar, real-life problem: Are the young moviegoers of 2012 too sophisticated to be wowed by a mere 3-D update of a recent classic?
While it’s a joy to see horned scare-mongerer James ”Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) and his wisecracking, one-eyed orb of an assistant Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) on the big screen again, the movie’s sparing use of new 3-D effects has little to do with the appeal. What really sparkles is the ingenious, heart-tugging adventure, which follows the monster duo as they try to return an adorable little girl nicknamed ”Boo” to the human world. You might even forget that you have 3-D glasses perched on your nose until the gravity-defying finale, when Sulley, Mike, and Boo swing through a rollercoaster-like assembly line of flying closet doors — a sequence practically made for coming-at-you effects.
The movie¹s decade-old visuals are noticeably less sumptuous than in Pixar’s latest offerings, but the kid-friendly humor — devoid of the overly self-conscious gags of the Shrek series — has aged remarkably well. What’s more, the implicit themes of corporate corruption and alternative energy feel even more relevant now than they did in 2001. It may be harder nowadays to dazzle audiences with fancy visual effects, but Monsters, Inc. 3D proves that smart, imaginative storytelling still does the trick every time. A-