Review: ‘Monsters, Inc.’ scares its way back to the Lakes 12 Theatre

“Monsters, Inc.” was another home run hit for Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, which has churned out such beloved modern classics as “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.” The 2001 blockbuster animated comedy features the vocal talents of John Goodman and Billy Crystal as a pair of working stiffs.

The Lakes 12 Theater in Baxter offers first-run new releases with discounted matinee prices, and it shows older movie classics at the lesser cost of $5 for any showing. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — Halloween is a great time for monsters to come out.

And “Monsters, Inc.” is a great family-friendly movie making its return to the big screen at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter as part of its offering of older movie classics. The ticket price is $5 for any showing of the 2001 blockbuster starring the voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal.

The buddy comedy also features the astonishing computer animation of Disney’s famed Pixar Animation Studios, which also made such beloved films such as “Toy Story” that paired Tom Hanks with Tim Allen and “Finding Nemo,” starring Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres.

“Monsters, Inc.” is rated G like many of Pixar’s motion pictures aimed at children, but most adults find the studio’s feature films entertaining as well and this one is no different.

RELATED: Review: 'The War with Grandpa' leaves audiences in stitches with laughter


The novel concept of the Oscar-winning film — it nabbed an Academy Award for “If I Didn’t Have You” by singer-songwriter Randy Newman, a frequent Pixar collaborator — is that monsters have to be frightening in order to generate screams that power their universe.

Even more amusingly is that the outwardly scary-looking creatures — but not too scary because this is a Disney-distributed film after all — are more scared of little children, particularly when their two worlds collide and an adorable girl ventures into the factory-driven “Monsters, Inc.”

The movie features the manic energy of Crystal, particularly when he is in panic mode when the human child makes her way into the land of monsters, while Goodman plays the straight man in the team, as with such other famous pairings like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

RELATED: Now showing at Lakes 12 Theatre

The average closet doors of children’s bedrooms are the gateway in which the monsters make their nocturnal visits, reinforcing the old and long-standing belief of kids everywhere that there is a monster behind that door that feeds into that fear many of us had in our youth.

Goodman is James P. "Sulley" Sullivan and his one-eyed partner and best buddy Michael “Mike” Wazowski are the stars at the factory Monsters, Inc., with the former doing most of the proverbial heavy lifting as a towering blue-tinted behemoth with horns.

Crystal is the pint-sized coach Mike, whose aspirations besides climbing the corporate ladder involve wooing Celia Mae, another cycloptic-creature whose hair consists of hissing snakes. Celia is voiced by Jennifer Tilly.

The late James Coburn lends his voice as the company's CEO, Henry J. Waternoose III, who sees himself as sort of a father figure to Sulley. His gravitas and conviction drive all the monsters to produce as many screams by scaring as many human children as possible.


RELATED: Review: ‘Goosebumps’ frightens but in a fun, family-friendly kind of way

The aforementioned girl sneaks her way into the world of monsters but is not terrified by them. One of the running gags is she believes, incorrectly but humorously, Sulley is some kind of cat and calls him a kitty while the towering creature runs frantically out of her way as she gives chase.

Meanwhile, energy production is inexplicably falling and the city of Monstropolis is in peril if things don’t improve soon. Children are becoming increasingly immune to the antics of the monsters.

Randall Boggs, Sulley and Mike’s chief rival at Monsters, Inc., is a salamander-like monster who is unscrupulous, sneaky, competitive and most of all envious of Sulley’s ability to harvest human screams. The camouflage-capable creature is voiced by Steve Buscemi of “Fargo” fame.

Sulley soon grows fond of the girl and even affectionately gives her the nickname of “Boo,” once he discards with the monsters’ belief that humans are toxic to be in the presence of, so much so that there is even a Child Detection Agency dedicated to rooting out such encounters.


Sulley and Mike attempt to return Boo back to her home after she sneaks on the factory floor and before she is discovered by their coworkers. During the trio’s time together, they come to realize the little girl’s laughter can generate more power than a child’s scream.


“Monsters, Inc.” was re-released in theaters in 3-D in 2012, a testament to its timeless appeal. The prequel “Monsters University,” which reunited Goodman and Crystal, was released in 2013. “Monsters at Work,” a TV series, will be released next year on the streaming service Disney+.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

Frank Lee.jpg
Frank Lee

Frank Lee.jpg
Frank Lee

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
What To Read Next
Get Local