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Mainstream critics were pleased, but not bowled over. Mark Caro (Chicago Tribune) argues, "Shrek … seemed to be trying to appeal to everybody without providing a consistent tone or message for anybody. Monsters, Inc. … knows its audience of the young and the young at heart. And it offers a lesson that seems particularly apt these days: Scaring kids may be inevitable, but making them laugh is a lot more satisfying."
MaryAnn Johanson (The Flick Filosopher) praises "the quiet and unshowy but loving attention paid to each individual hair in Sulley's fur." She feels the film "is aimed more at the kiddies: it's simpler, sweeter, less deeply affecting. The Toy Story films … are more about the adult nostalgia for childhood than they are about the circumstance of being a child—Monsters touches more on the concerns of childhood that we outgrow and forget: being afraid of monsters, and learning to let go of that fear."
I had a good time with Monsters, Inc. But Billy Crystal's performance as Mike joined a large number of recent animated characters that give a comedian the freedom to ramble on relentlessly with hit-and-miss humor. (This started with Robin Williams in Aladdin.) The Toy Story movies showed us believable friendships, but I kept wondering why Sulley runs around with this whining jabbermouth. If the movie had focused more on storytelling and less on one-liners, the relationship between little Boo and her monster (the most effective and moving element in the movie) might have become even more interesting. Still, there aren't many films around right now that are as harmless and hilarious for the whole family. So go ahead—treat your kids, and yourself.