Monsters Inc.
  
Starring: the voices of: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi
Running Time: 92 mins 
  
WITH the Toy Story movies, Pixar and Disney proved to us that toys really do have a life of their own.

Now they have gone one better to show adults something kids have known for years. There really is a monster hiding under the bed.

But while the Toy Stories dealt with the hopes and fears of what happens when kids grow up, Monsters Inc. revels in being a child, with all the associated thrills, spills and wide-eyed wonder that entails.

This twist on the 'bogeyman' has never been done so well.

Monsters Inc. is a vastly enjoyable, witty and intelligent voyage through the wondrous, puzzling and sometimes downright scary world of children - and monsters.

The world at night is an eerily frightening place for any kid.

In the dark, the most familiar surroundings morph into strange and threatening shapes.

Every rustle is a sinister growl and fearsome creatures wait to frighten the living daylights out of the unwary.

Of course, this trauma tends to be forgotten by the age of about nine, which suits the citizens of Monstropolis just fine.

You see, Monstropolis - the world the monsters live in - is powered by children's scream energy, they even have a sort of National Grid in charge of collecting and processing it.

Monsters Inc. - 'We scare because we care' - employs the top scarers in Monstropolis to terrify kids all over the world, via billions of special portal doors created in children's bedroom closets all over the world.

But there is a problem.

Inc.reasingly desensitised kids are getting harder to scare, and the scream shortage is leading to power cuts all over the city.

No-one is more concerned about this than Monsters Inc.'s top scarer, James P Sullivan (John Goodman) - Sulley to his friends or is that fiends? - a gigantic, hairy blue and purple, bear-like behemoth, and his best friend Mike Wazowski, a short, loud-mouthed, green cycloptic walking eye (Billy Crystal).

Things go from bad to worse when one particularly gregarious tiny tot follows Sulley back into the monsters' world, causing chaos.

You see, as far as monsters are concerned, children are toxic and one touch can kill.
 
Any form of contact with a child is greeted with hysteria and a painful decontamination visit by the CDA (Child Detection Agency).

Can Sulley and Mike send the tiny 'terror' back through her door without anyone finding out?

Can they break the all time scream record before the repellently slimy, reptilian, Randall Boggs (voiced with relish by Steve Buscemi) ?

And most importantly, can Sulley get the kid to stop calling him 'kitty'?

This is a fantastic mixture of truly loveable characters (except Randall), state of the art CGI animation and crisp, witty script.

You'll gaze in wonder at the amazing technicolour world of Monstropolis, a sort of larger than life suburb of Brooklyn populated by a host of extraordinary creatures.

Take Mike's better half for instance, the lovely Celia (Jennifer Tilly) who happens to be a cycloptic, Medusa-like, sex-bomb - replete with rattling snakes for hair.

This is eye-candy of the highest quality.

The building textures and character animation is unbelievable. The rigid expressions of Toy Story and A Bug's Life have evolved into highly flexible organic skin and hair.

I defy anyone not to be mesmerised by Sulley's amazingly realistic fur.

While Monsters Inc. may lack a little of the sparky pathos that made the Toy Stories such a smash, it is by no means short of creativity or clever ideas.

The concept of mass produced terror turned out by seemingly horrific, yet eminently lovable monsters is a good one.

The voice cast is excellent and give a real human warmth to their characters, especially Crystal - who despite being a walking eyeball is one of the most expressive characters in the film.

Pixar are still as hip to pop culture references as they ever were. The champion scarers make their entrances to the Scare Floor like astronauts from The Right Stuff.

But my favourite has to be the swankiest restaurant in town being named Harryhausens - after Ray Harryhausen, the legendary stop-motion animator, and monster maker.

Mix into that themes of corporate rivalries, corruption, romance, moral decency and love and you have 92 minutes of rip-roaring action and kinetic, good-natured fun which will have audiences - especially kids - screaming for more.