Until now I couldn't bring myself to believe that computer animation was the equal of either stop motion animation or hand-drawn animation. All computer animated films looked a little (usually more than a little) too sterile, many were animated poorly ("Antz", "Shrek", "Final Fantasy"), and even the single unqualified success ("Toy Story 2") provided little evidence that a computer animated film COULD reach the heights other kinds of animation could. "Toy Story 2" had flawless character animation, but nothing as inspired as the best in "Tarzan" (released the same year, although I could have chosen almost any other Disney cartoon to make my point); effective art direction, but nothing to match "Fantasia" or "The Nightmare Before Christmas". And I thought that "Toy Story 2" was as good as the art was ever going to get.
I was wrong. This is far better. And what's more, there's no sense whatever that the script (an unusually rich and uninhibited script) is bumping up against the limits of what the medium will allow. It's now been proven that computer animation CAN be just as good as any other kind. Whether it will be allowed to be in future is another question, but for now, I'm hopeful. What we have here is computer animation's first ENTIRELY unalloyed artistic delight, with every character gracefully and characteristically animated, every virtual set just right and pleasing to look at, and an eye-tickling mastery of colour, light and shade that I thought would forever elude CGI artists.
It's not fair to judge anything good as "Monsters, Inc." as though it were a children's movie, but I can't resist comparing it with "Shrek" - which emphatically IS a children's movie. "Monsters, inc." is admittedly ABOUT children, in a sort of a way. The inhabitants of Monstropolis rely on children's screams for their energy, and the central story is kicked off when one of the monsters accidentally brings a small child (which he calls "Boo") into the city. But we never see things from her point of view. We see things from the point of view of the monsters, who are all adults - and who, like most adults, see children as frightening, almost incomprehensible members of another species. And they ARE. To be sure, Wazowski comes to feel strong affection for Boo, but she never becomes more than a humanoid pet (which is not to demean the relationship). This is a story about adults looking at childhood from the outside.
"Shrek", of course, is a children's movie through and through. Its attention span is short, it has an unthinking mean streak, and children will have a whale of a time watching the central characters (the bigger they are, the more fun it is) act childishly and make poo-poo jokes. "Monsters, Inc." has too much genuine wit, characters too rich, a world with too much depth, and a story at once too coherent and too complicated, to be PRIMARILY a film for children. This is not to say children won't like it. Maybe they will. (Who can say?) Here's the bonus: if they DO like it, it will (unlike "Shrek") actually have a beneficial effect. It will make them less frightened of the dark.