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Pixar Films on DVD: Toy Story • A Bug's Life • Toy Story 2 • Monsters, Inc. • Finding Nemo • The Incredibles • Cars • Ratatouille • WALL•E • Up
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Monsters, Inc.: 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD Review

Monsters, Inc. (2001) movie poster Monsters, Inc.

Theatrical Release: November 2, 2001 / Running Time: 93 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Pete Docter / Co-Directors: David Silverman, Lee Unkrich / Writers: Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, Ralph Eggleston (story); Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson (screenplay)

Voice Cast: John Goodman (James P. "Sulley" Sullivan), Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski), Mary Gibbs (Boo), Steve Buscemi (Randall Boggs), James Coburn (Henry J. Waternoose), Jennifer Tilly (Celia), Bob Peterson (Roz), John Ratzenberger (Yeti), Frank Oz (Fungus), Daniel Gerson (Needleman & Smitty), Steve Susskind (Floor Manager), Bonnie Hunt (Flint), Jeff Pidgeon (Bile), Sam Black (George)

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By Jake Lipson and Aaron Wallace

After I've gone to bed at night, there's a brief period of time between being fully awake and completely losing myself to sleep. It's been this way as long as I can remember, and I think about lots of things as I try to make myself rest.
I'd be lying if I said that when I was a kid the possibility didn't enter my mind that there was a monster behind my closet door then, watching and waiting, ready to come out and scare me as soon as I was fully asleep.

It's in simple ideas and thoughts like this that Pixar builds its stories, and in that way, even though they are not usually focused around humans, they are all instantly relatable to us humans, calling the audience back to a time of childhood innocence and wonder. Box office analysts always seem surprised at the long-term replayability of Pixar's movies, but I think the reason they're so enduringly popular is easy to explain. After all, haven't you played with your toys as a child and made voices for them, only to wonder if they have their own voices and speak once you leave the room? Haven't you ever wondered what a bug's life is like? Haven't you, too, ever thought that there was a monster behind your closet? Yes, the Pixar movies have gorgeous, innovative visuals, but the real reason people flock back to see them again and again is because of this resonance. It is the movie's core and makes it even easier to care about the characters that you're given a million other reasons to fall in love with. All of Pixar's features fuse knockout, inventive stories, stunning imagery, compelling characters, genuinely funny humor, and memorable music with said resonant attachment to come up with something truly special. Audiences know this and they respond enthusiastically every time.

When you thought that a monster was behind your closet door waiting for the opportune moment to scare you, did you ever think about them? Monsters, Inc. takes us into their reality and explains that scaring us is nothing personal. It's just their job. Forget batteries or solar energy -- scares produce screams, and screams are used as energy to run the monster world. The problem is that there's a shortage of screams in Monstropolis because kids just don't scare like they used to. Even so, only the bravest monsters will do anything about it, because they're just as scared of us as we are of them! Children are toxic, and one touch could be life-threatening. So naturally, widespread panic ensues when a child finds her way through the other side of her door and right into the monster world.

Pixar serves up another scene of stunning visuals. Henry J. Waternoose shows newbies how things are done at Monsters, Inc.

But it hits closest to home for James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) -- the best scarer Monsters, Incorporated has ever seen and soon-to-be scare record-breaker to boot -- and his best buddy/work partner, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) when they intercept the child. They call her Boo (Mary Gibbs) and quickly grow attached, deciding they must find the doorway to send her home without getting caught by the Child Detection Agency representatives scouring the factory. Also on their trail is rival employee Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi), the scheming monster who's assigned to scare Boo on a nightly basis. He's neck and neck with Sulley for the scare record and will stop at nothing to make sure they don't interfere with his agenda. Further complicating it all, the ordeal is taking its toll on Mike's romance with Celia (Jennifer Tilly), not to mention that it's potentially disruptive to the very existence of the monster world! How's a monster to deal with it all?

Evidently, audiences loved watching them deal, because Monsters, Inc. became a monster hit at the box office as soon as it was released in November 2001, nominated for (but, criminally, not winning) the first ever Best Animated Feature Academy Award. It's not quite as packed with endlessly fulfilling adventure and cinematic near-perfection as Toy Story,
but it does come close, currently residing somewhere in the middle of Pixar's potent repertoire. It's primarily a comedy, though not as flamboyantly so as Finding Nemo. Still, it's absolutely hilarious from beginning to end, thanks largely to the clever cracks of Billy Crystal. Both he and Goodman are spot-on in the lead roles and Buscemi, Tilly, and the rest of the supporting cast are equally successful.

There's a lot of dramatic merit to the film too, however. No matter how many times it is viewed, the action-filled plot never fails to wrap an audience up in suspense. The characters are entirely accessible and consistent and though the buddy comedy is a familiar format (particularly for Pixar) and each lead sticks to its respective archetype, the viewer can't help but care about their well-being. The same is true for Boo, who the young Gibbs does a good job in evoking empathy for her character, even if primarily through frequent squeals of laughter.

Randall Boggs, the film's villain, looks into Mike's one eye. Who ever thought a monster looking over your bed at night could be a good thing?

All is complimented by some truly amazing animation. Prior to Cars, I might have held up a few scenes from this film as Pixar's most impressive. The world of Monstropolis is fully realized with amazing detail. The characters -- Sulley in particular -- are marvels. Everything else technical pleases too, like Randy Newman's score, for instance. The Pixar vet prescribed a musical feel to the film and it's consistent throughout. In fact, aside from its easily-forgotten formulaic underpinning, it's really difficult to find anything not to like about Monsters, Inc.. It's since been outdone in the action scene by The Incredibles and it lacks some of Toy Story's abundant warmth, but only in comparison. It is about as satisfying a film as almost any that's come to the big screen this decade.

Fans had to wait nearly a year for its DVD debut in September 2002, but were well rewarded for their patience, as it received Pixar's usual lavish treatment on disc. Aside from being moviemaking geniuses, the guys at Pixar are also DVD fanatics. Thus, they know what we want and give it to us time after time, constantly producing some of the best special editions ever released. This double-disc Collector's Edition is no exception. In fact, it's quite a monster. It features two versions of the movie, flawless video and audio quality, and extras that both kids and adults will actually want to watch. The DVD truly does unlock the doors of the Monsters, Inc. world. Let's take a closer look behind them, shall we?

Buy Monsters, Inc. on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen,
Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Release Date: September 17, 2002
Two Single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)
THX-Certified with Optimizer tests
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Dual Amaray Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

The movie itself is given two transfers, so you can watch it in either the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen or 1.33:1 full screen format. As has become standard Pixar procedure, the filmmakers have specially reformatted Monsters, Inc. under the supervision of director Pete Docter in order to make it work better in the narrower 1.33:1 frame without much cropping. Objects and characters have been moved closer together and other tweaks have been made to allow for a better home viewing experience. Still, the widescreen transfer remains the far superior choice for your viewing and I'm mainly focusing on it for this review.

Mike and Sulley converse in the locker room, seen here in the original widescreen aspect ratio. The same frame, seen here in fullscreen, demonstrating that more can be seen than would be possible from a typical pan & scan presentation, thanks to Pixar's efforts.

Since their movies are created entirely within the computer, Pixar can transfer them to DVD directly from the digital source, eliminating any reliance upon a film print.
The result is so completely breathtaking that it blows your mind. Gone are any hints of grain, dirt, smudges, or other possible defects caused by film. These transfers may well be the very definition of reference quality, looking as bright and vivid as possible. Colors are deep, rich, saturated and exciting, and the sense of depth is positively jaw-dropping. At any given point in the movie, I felt like I could reach out inside my TV and stroke Sulley's fur, rub Mike's one eye, or pick up cute little Boo and rock her in my arms. When you watch, you'll feel it too. This presentation is, quite literally, perfect.

Disney presents Monsters, Inc. in a lively, energetic Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX mix, crafted by Oscar-winning Gary Rydstrom and the team at George Lucas's Skywalker Sound. Happily, it's as lush, active, and vibrant as it was in the theaters. The dialogue is crystal clear, the sound effects are bold and epic without being overpowering, and Randy Newman's beautiful, hauntingly loving score comes across with harmonious perfection. The mix makes Monsters, Inc. an awesome aural experience.

DISC 1 BONUS FEATURES

For those who just can't get enough of the movie, a few fun punches have been tacked onto Disc One to allow us to experience it in different ways. In addition to the two transfers, there's one of the great screen-specific audio commentary tracks from the Pixar guys. Here, we hear from director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, executive producer John Lasseter, and screenwriter Andrew Stanton. They make two things abundantly clear: one, how they made the movie, and two, that working at Pixar is way too much fun to be legal. These guys are extremely informative, and fans will find a gold mine of valuable, interesting trivia on this track. Gladly, unlike certain DVD commentaries, these guys keep it engaging, zestful and truly fun to listen to, never once being boring. I'll even go as far as saying that had Disney decided to release Monsters, Inc. as a single-disc edition with only this sole extra, purchasers would have gotten all they needed on the making of right here. All of the extras on Disc Two continue on in the informative-and-interesting combination method, but if you don't have the time or will to dig that deep, this track will give you an excellent, in-depth overview of the entire production. If you are a serious fan of the movie, or an animation fan in general, then this is absolutely a must listen. As an added "screw you" to those who don't or won't do widescreen, this is only available for your hearing pleasure on the original aspect ratio version of the movie.

Also included is an isolated sound effects track so that you can savor those bold, epic sound effects without anything else getting in the way. Sound-mixing fans will eat this up, but otherwise I'd advise a brief listen to a favorite scene and then moving on to the near-excessive extras that Disc Two is overflowing with. It is worth noting that I would have enjoyed an isolated score track as well, but I suppose Disney's execs figured that if they didn't include that they'd move more copies of the soundtrack CD. So nothing of that sort will be found here, though it's pretty amazing that this is my only gripe with the set. So now let's close the door on Disc One, and open one of the several waiting for us on Disc Two.

 Mike shows off his hot new ride to Sulley in the all-new short created for the DVD: "Mike's New Car" Pixar's "For the Birds" opened in front of "Monsters, Inc.", took home an Oscar, and is now preserved on this DVD.

DISC 2 BONUS FEATURES

Of course, the bulk of the bonus features are reserved for the second platter. Navigating through the labyrinth of Disc 2 menus is not an easy task (more on this later), but once achieved, there's a lot to discover. The main menu screen presents two doors, one marked "Humans Only" (material for the film enthusiast) and the other labeled "Monsters Only" (material for younger viewers). Entering either provides access to an abundance of bonus material but before doing so, there are three features accessible directly from the main menu.

Appropriately enough, the proceedings kick off with two animated Pixar shorts. The first is For the Birds (3:27), which played in theaters before Monsters, Inc. and won the studio the 2001 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject. It tells the story of one bird ostracized by a mass of others, all perched along a power line, and the comeuppance that nature awards him. While perhaps not their best, For the Birds is a very funny and highly memorable short, fully worthy of the Pixar name. It is presented with optional audio commentary by director Ralph Eggleston, who offers plenty of insight for such a short period of time.

The second short, Mike's New Car (3:44), was created especially for this DVD. In it, Mike demonstrates his flashy new car to Sulley and, in the spirit of the Disney cartoons of yore, ends up in a battle of man (well, monster) vs. machine. It's a very simple affair but extremely comical and the characters (again brought to life by Billy Crystal and John Goodman) stay true to their filmic personas. The optional audio commentary is credited to "Docter and Gould", presumably referencing directors Pete Docter and Roger Gould. In fact, the commentary is delivered by their very young son and daughter, respectively. The two deliver a surprisingly satisfying and unsurprisingly adorable conversation and while hearing from the directors themselves would have also been nice, this less conventional commentary is likely far more memorable.

Roz drops by for a classic Pixar outtake. Mike and Sulley serve up a Japanese rap in an international promotional appearance on "Ponkickies 21." In the DVD's virtual game "Peek-A-Boo", you can help Boo put together her shattered bedroom door by searching behind six fully intact doors.

Finally, the main menu presents an outtake reel (5:30),
featuring several original segments meant to imitate the kind of bloopers that are common in live-action productions. The reel is brilliant and inspired, showcasing the trademark Pixar ingenuity. They even include some footage from the final production of Mike's Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me! musical. It's a mustn't-miss.

Now that these have been explored and enjoyed, we can move into the Monsters Only door. The idea behind this door is that viewers enroll themselves as the newest employees of Monsters, Incorporated, where they will receive training and embark on various adventures through Monstropolis. There are three sections inside: New Monster Adventures, Behind the Screams, and Orientation (which should probably be listed in reverse order, but I digress).

Curiously, the first offering in New Monster Adventures is Mike's New Car, the same short that was already made available on Disc 2's main menu. After that, there's "Monster TV Treats" (1:09), a reel of various television interstitials promoting the movie, most of them related to a holiday or sporting event. I don't specifically remember any of these from the time of release, but assuming that they were aired at the time, they should probably be included in the Release section of Humans Only (which we will cover momentarily), but don't necessarily feel out of place here. The same can be said for two quirky promotional appearances on the popular Japanese cartoon, "Ponkickies 21", by Mike and Sulley.

The obligatory virtual game is "Peek-A-Boo: Boo's Door Game", an extremely easy but somewhat time-consuming activity. It involves searching various rooms for pieces of Boo's broken door, of which there are six in total. While simple, it is impressively rendered and in keeping with the content and spirit of the film, and therefore better than some others in its ilk. Next up, rounding up the kid-targeted, game-like features, is "Storytime." It tells the Monsters, Inc. story inside a highly interactive storybook, which can be explored manually or read aloud by a narrator.

Finally, there's a music video (1:13) for the Goodman/Crystal-sung "If I Didn't Have You," a pleasant number that captures the protagonists' friendship. The video doesn't necessarily enhance the Oscar-winning tune, as it's just film clips with audio excerpts that occasionally override the music, but the song itself earns approval.

"Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me": the musical we all wish had been made (at least there's a program for it included on the DVD!) The Monsters, Inc. commercial seen early on in the film is available for stand-alone viewing in the Monsters Only section of the DVD. The multi-page, interactive Monsters, Incorporated employee handbook feels like the real thing!

The next section, Behind the Screams, begins by offering the outtakes reel that was already available on Disc 2's main menu.
After that, there's a 23-page virtual booklet that realistically replicates a theater program for Mike's Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me!, which is unfortunately never seen in its entirety. It's a lot to wade through, but the attention to detail is impressive. Finally, there is "On the Job with Mike & Sulley" (2:31), a fictitious news interview with Mike and Sulley, live from the Scare Floor. Like the other new creations for this DVD, it's highly enjoyable and a quality Pixar cartoon in its own right.

The last section behind this door is Orientation, which plays out a lot like it sounds and will probably be the most fun for children, assuming the interactivity required isn't too much to ask. First is "Welcome to Monsters, Inc." (0:58), the scare factory commercial that plays inside the movie. Naturally, it's nice to have this available as a stand-alone featurette and it works nicely as an introduction to this section. "Your First Day" (3:34) gives new employees an effective overview of the company and its facilities. It's followed by "History of the Monster World" (1:36), a sketch-animated short that gives a humorous account of monsterkind's history.

There are also three galleries for new employees. The first and most elaborate is the ten-page interactive "Employee Handbook", which adequately covers all the bases while consistently amusing. "Monster of the Month" isn't much to speak of; it's just a still screen of photos for a years' worth of Monster of the Month award winners (guess who most of them belong to!) but it's still a neat and thoughtful inclusion. Finally, there's a gallery of "Scarer Cards" made for the DVD, imitating collectible baseball cards, only profiling some of Monstropolis' most successful monsters. There are 14 in all and each is narrated by Needle, who takes a long time to get through each card and whose voice quickly wears thin, encouraging viewers to read for themselves and move on.

The Humans Only door opens to a far fuller and more substantive platter. Inside it, there are seven more doors which can be opened. They are: Pixar, Story, Monster File, Design, Animation, Music & Sound, and Release. The Humans Only menu also presents a "Production Tour" (20:00), which strings together the lead video featurette (i.e. the most production-centric ones) from each of the first five doors into one featurette. It's a worthwhile inclusion for those looking to merely skim through Disc 2, but it also likely confuses people who find themselves re-watching the same material inside each of the doors. Those who plan on watching everything are better served by viewing the components individually.

John Lasseter and director Pete Docter deliver some karaoke in the studio's new building, which just happens to be toured just for you on this DVD. A still from "Monsters, Inc."'s original story treatment. The DVD provides viewers with the opportunity to see the storyboard and final versions of the film side-by-side.

The section labeled simply Pixar contains only one item, but it's quite a good one. The "Pixar Fun Factory Tour" (3:34) shows off the studio's then-new office building and demonstrates just how much fun it must be to work at Pixar. It's no wonder that their films are brimming with so much fun.

Inside the Story section, one finds "Story Is King", a featurette highlighting Pixar's supreme emphasis on quality storytelling in their films. Interviews with Pixar personnel abound. The same is true for "Monsters Are Real" (1:29), in which the Pixar folk reflect on the idea that monsters might be real and what it means for their movie. "Original Treatment" (13:40) strings together some very impressive concept art, incidental music, and narration to construct the original overview for the Monsters, Inc. plot, which at times is interestingly divergent from the final script. It's a treat to see, as is "Story Pitch: Back to Work (Early Version)" (4:36), which takes viewers behind-the-scenes to observe some early storyboard workshops on the movie.

Also concerning early plans for the film are four "Banished Concepts", which are sort of like deleted scenes, presented in rough animation and accompanied by an introduction. There's also "Original Sulley Intro" (1:00), which shows the way Sulley would have been originally introduced to the audience (much of which found its way into the movie). Finally, there's "Storyboard to Film Comparison" (5:42), which offers a scene from the movie in three forms: original storyboards, final product, and a split-screen presentation of both. To sweeten the already juicy deal, use of the DVD remote's angle button allows viewers to seamlessly toggle between the three.

Actor John Goodman (who looks much older today than he did just five years ago) talks about his role as James P. Sullivan in "Cast of Characters." Director Pete Docter, Co-Director Lee Unkrich, and Pixar's oft-seen monkey convey the fun of working at Pixar. One of several pages worth of concept art for Sulley.

The next section is Monster File, dedicated to the film's lovable characters. First up is "Cast of Characters" (5:51), which highlights the cast of Monsters, Inc. with interviews and footage from the recording studio. "What Makes A Great Monster?" (1:24) considers all the many ways that one might imagine a monster and the creativity that went into the character design. Rounding up the section is an art gallery of character design, featuring stills of Sulley (36), Mike (18), Boo (27), Sulley and Boo together (9), Henry J. Waternoose (9), Randall/Rivera (9), Celia/Roz (9), Fungus/Jerry (9), Ted/Smitty/Needleman (9), George/"Claws" (9), Bile/Harley (9), "Bud"/Bob/Rickey (9), the C.D.A. (9), and a group of "Monster Wannabees" (45). As if that wasn't enough, all but that final gallery also include 3-D, 360 degree, computer-generated turn-arounds of the characters.

The fourth door is Design, which kicks off with "Monstropolis" (2:51), an interview-heavy featurette on the task Pixar faced in creating a world that would be believably inhabited by monsters. "Setting the Scene" turns out to actually be two features in one. The first is "Set Dressing" (3:24), a featurette on all the details that animators have to create in any given scene to make it feel real and the second is "Step Through", which presents a bare scene from Monstropolis and enables viewers to advance through one stage of detail-adding to the next, eventually arriving at the final scene. Next up is a gallery of color scripts, featuring 71 stills. That's followed by another gallery, this one dedicated to pastel concept art used to achieve "Master Lighting" and featuring eight stills that are each accompanied by their final film version as well.

Clicking on "Monstropolis Art" reveals five additional galleries, each dedicated to concept drawings for a specific location in the movie. They are: Door Vault (9), Monstropolis (50), Door Station (9), Monsters Inc. (18), and Scare Floor (20). After that, there's an entirely different kind of gallery: "Guide to 'In' Jokes", which presents 21 stills from the movie and points out a hidden joke or inter-textual reference in it. Both Disney and Pixar are known for their fondness for this sort of thing, so it's really nice to have some of them pointed out with explanations.

One of several "flyarounds" on the DVD, Mike and Sulley's apartment can be explored in 3-D while they're at work! An early animation test for Sulley, back when he had tentacles. So thorough is this DVD that it even takes time to dissect the opening title sequence.

Probably the coolest feature inside Design, though, is "Location Flyarounds", which presents a digitally rendered tour of five different sets from the movie: Downtown, The Apartment, Monsters Inc., Simulator, and Boo's Room. These invite viewers to explore the world of Monstropolis without all the distractions of plot and characters, though there are a few surprises. The environments created for the film are all the more impressive after experience these "flyarounds".

The Animation section is loaded with video featurettes. The first is "Animation Process" (3:11) which, as the name implies, details the process of creating a CGI-animated feature film. "Early Tests" (8:02) shows some of the first scenes animated to explore the possibilities for the movie and as there's no audio,
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they are accompanied by very informative commentary by Thomas Porter, Steve May, and Michael Fong. "Opening Title Animation" (2:06) discusses the idea for and creation of the film's very jazzy opening credits sequence. "Hard Parts" explains the methods used to achieve the most difficult (and most impressive) animated portions of the movie, like the door station and Sulley's hair. "Shots Department" (2:12) similarly delves into the creation of some of the more difficult shots and character movements.

Finally, there's something called "Production Demo" (1:52). This presents a scene from the movie in four different stages: Storyreel, Layout, Animation, and Final Color. Each stage can be watched in its entirety or even better, in rotation during one viewing thanks to the remote control's angle button. The transitions are seamless and the fluidity from one stage to the next is fascinating.

Billy Crystal discusses working with Randy Newman. A lesson in binaural sound This, the original theatrical poster, and many other posters for the film can be viewed in the Poster Gallery.

Music and Sound includes three featurettes. "Monster Song" (3:15) is a behind-the-scenes look at the Goodman-Crystal duet of Randy Newman's "If I Didn't Have You" with interviews from all three parties. "Sound Design" (4:13) is a conventional but adequate look at the sound effects and scoring devised for Monsters, Inc., covering both the technical and the creative. The last and most unusual is "Binaural Recording". It begins with an introduction that explains the meaning of binaural audio and its use in the movie. Viewers are then urged to view the rest of the material in this section with headphones plugged in, where John Goodman and Billy Crystal first have fun with left-ear/right-ear audio gags in an in-studio video. After that, one can compare three different mixes of a piece of film score: the final stereo mix, the binaural live stage recording of the orchestra at work, and the 5.1 "Special Surround Mix". The latter would be better with headphones off, but the others offer some neat exploration of cinematic sound production.

The last section behind the Humans Only door is Release, which covers all the promotional material that accompanied the movie's theatrical debut. There's first a brief montage (0:56) of footage from the world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood and then a "Toys" featurette (1:29) on the movie's merchandise. Covering international releases, there is a "Multi-Language Clip Reel" (3:48) in which one scene plays while the audio cycles through many different languages and "International Inserts" (1:06), which documents the efforts Pixar takes to make their movies feel native to whichever country it screens in. The same outtakes reel that appears on the main menu screen and behind the Monsters Only door is inexplicably repeated here as well (enough already!).

Perhaps the two most exciting features of this section: a poster gallery and a section devoted to trailers and TV spots. The former houses fifteen unique and creative posters used to promote the film. The latter includes both theatrical trailers, the theatrical teaser, and four different TV spots. Disney DVDs almost never include the trailers for the films they carry these days, so it's delightful that Pixar's Collector's Edition DVDs make so many of them available to consumers.

Easter Eggs

My general feeling on DVD Easter eggs is that while the idea sounds nice on the surface, in practice, they needlessly complicate access to bonus features that are "hidden" for no real reason. Unless they are especially playful or frivolous, I'd rather have them listed up-front along with everything else. That's no exception for the several Easter Eggs found on the Monsters, Inc.: Collector's Edition DVD,
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though I must give Pixar credit for presenting their Easter eggs in true Easter egg style... bunny and all (well, sort of). The eggs I was able to uncover are described below. Those who prefer to discover them all on their own can
skip this section and head directly to Menus & Packaging.

First, inside the Monsters Only menu, selecting the eye in the Monsters, Incorporated logo on the right of the screen opens a 71-second reel of animation tests and "dailies" that include some comical gags inserted by the animators.

In the Orientation section, the first and last page of the Employee Handbook clearly feature multiple sections for browsing. The ninth page, however, can also be interactively navigated, though nothing on the screen indicates it. That makes this ninth page bonus an Easter egg. While Page 9 is open, select the right-pointing arrow at the very bottom of the screen beside "Index". Instead of pressing enter, press the up key. A section of the M.I. Scare Report will be highlighted with a white square. Press enter to read the humorous report up close.

Inside the Pixar section of Humans Only, move the cursor on top of the Pixar building, where the paper airplane is flying just below the "Pixar Fun Factory Tour" text. A black circle appears and selecting it accesses a very fun taping of a Pixar team model airplane flying contest (2:13), hosted by John Lasseter.

Calling it an Easter egg is a stretch, but while inside the Humans Only menu, clicking on the bottom-left piece of track (the one the Animation door hangs on) pulls up the DVD credits.

The seventh chapter of the "Production Tour" inside Humans Only reveals a sub-menu of Easter eggs, hidden behind seven new doors. Selecting them reveals either a very short and fairly random video clip or a gallery of some sort. One is a repeat of the DVD credits and one is important enough to have made it to the main Animation menu (a test scene with dialogue audio), but the rest are fun and fancy free, exactly the kind of thing Easter eggs are meant for.

The 16x9 main menu is animated with moving doors and roaming monsters. Disc 2's main menu, establishing the door motif that permeates the entire DVD set (and the movie).

MENUS and PACKAGING

The 16x9 animated main menu for Disc 1 emulates the film's opening titles sequence and presents the standard options behind an opened door. Doors provide the theme for all the menus on both discs, in fact, sometimes sparking creativity and sometimes creating too much of a maze. The sub-menus on the first disc are stagnant but accompanied by score.

The first disc opens with previews for Finding Nemo, Beauty and the Beast: Platinum Edition, the Lilo & Stitch DVD, Inspector Gadget 2, and Treasure Planet, all of which are also accessible from the main menu's atypically thematic Sneak Peeks section.

Disc 2's main menu isn't 16x9, but Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich, and Darla K. Anderson appear to welcome viewers and orient them to the disc's plentiful contents. Once they leave, there's some more animation and the two doors (and three canisters) arrive. Navigating through the material on Disc 2 requires that one wear their hunting hats. Having one door inside another (near ad infinitum) creates a complicated web of bonus features, not aided by the fact that some of the features appear in more than one (or even two) places. Granted, it's difficult to organize this much content inside one simple menu system, but other DVDs have had more success. Only The Lion King: Platinum Edition can hope to out-confuse hopeful bonus-seekers. Luckily, there's a map to all the features included inside the case, which also boasts a mini-poster of the character cast and, at least in early printings, an envelope filled with promotional offers from Disney behind it.

The menus are all nicely animated when animation is employed. The Humans Only door is most impressive, taking place inside the Door Station with ever-moving doors in the background and plenty of sound. The Monsters Only door feels at home inside its supposed location, the Monsters, Inc. factory. The DVD is packaged in a standard-width dual black keepcase. This 2002 release predates the frequent use of protective side-snaps as well as the now-nearly obligatory practice of housing cases in cardboard slipcovers. Neither are found on this DVD, making it the only Pixar movie to never have been granted a slip-cover (oh the horror!).

James P. Sullivan makes an entrance like no other. In one of Pixar's most visually appealing scenes, Sulley, Mike, and Boo catch a ride on Monsters, Inc.'s door track.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Monsters, Inc. is an excellent movie, chock-full of adventure, hilarity, emotion, and fun. Faults are hard to find and when they're found, it's only by those intently looking for them. Though a few similarities bind their films together, Pixar have proven themselves to be master moviemakers time and again. Monsters, Inc. is no exception. Its Collector's Edition DVD -- the only one it's ever received -- is every bit as thrilling as the movie it holds. The organization could use some tweaking but everything else, from the flawless audio/video presentation to the fully loaded platter of entirely worthwhile bonus features, pleases as much as any DVD can. So much goes right with this set and so little goes wrong that virtually anyone can rest assured that a purchase will earn their satisfaction. This one is definitely a must-own.

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Related Reviews
Monsters, Inc. (4-Disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo) • Cars (Blu-ray + DVD + Cars Gift Pack) • A Bug's Life (Blu-ray)
Pixar on DVD:
Toy Story (10th Anniversary Edition) • Toy Story 2 (Special Edition) • A Bug's Life (Collector's Edition)
Finding Nemo (Collector's Edition) • The Incredibles (Collector's Edition) • Cars • Ratatouille
WALL•E (3-Disc Special Edition) • Up (Blu-ray & Deluxe DVD Combo) • Toy Story & Toy Story 2: The Ultimate Toy Box

My Neighbor Totoro • Howl's Moving Castle • Spirited Away • My Neighbors The Yamadas
The Princess Diaries: Special Edition • Atlantis: The Lost Empire • Recess: School's Out
Scrubs: The Complete First Season • Max Keeble's Big Move • Dinosaur: Collector's Edition
Pete's Dragon • Halloweentown & Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge • The Nightmare Before Christmas • The Princess Bride
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales • Bee Movie • Shrek the Third • Shrek the Halls • Kung Fu Panda

Related Pages:
Top 30 Disney Villains Countdown (featuring Randall)
Top 50 Disney Heroes & Heroines Countdown (featuring Sulley)
Customize Monsters, Inc. t-shirts, stamps, shirts and more at Zazzle.com

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Reviewed November 13, 2006.