How Monsters, Inc. Changes When You Become a Parent

So, the other day, I gave EV all of our Pixar options and let her pick which one she wanted to watch. She picked up Monsters, Inc. and said, “RAWR!!” And so, she made her choice.

Monsters, Inc. was one of my favorite movies growing up. I’ve always been a huge fan of Pixar, I even dreamed of working there someday (and reaping the benefits of their cereal wall) but alas, my calling was to make tiny Pixar fans instead. Pixar seems to do really well with storytelling in a way that is entertaining for kids but also for adults. I mean, I’m really into children’s entertainment- more than most, I gather- but most people agree that most Pixar movies are just great movies in general.

After watching the film like 5 times this week (I mean, not really watching, but you know, having it on, the only way parents watch things for a few years), I have noticed a few things that are totally different now that I’ve got kids. Even more so now that EV is practically the same age as Boo, and also, like, her twin.

Boo is a creative genius

Monsters Inc Screen Shot 27

Based on her level of speech, physical abilities, and general demeanor, I’d say Boo is about 2.5 years old. Which means her drawings are waaayyy ahead of the game. EV is starting to reign in her creative skills, but I seriously doubt she’s only a few months away from drawing cohesive creatures. Then again, kids are pretty stinkin’ amazing at learning things. Still, Boo is probably destined to be a famous artist if she can draw like that at her perceived age. Apparently, she can also write her name (as can bee seen in close-up stills of this scene). So… what’s up with that?

 Boo’s parents are either really horrible or traumatized for life

“Remember that time when little Mary disappeared and then suddenly showed up in her room like nothing happened? Yeah, that was TERRIBLE.”

That’s what I imagine Boo’s (who I guess is named Mary) parents saying to each other a few years after the shock of their toddler being M.I.A. for like 30 hours. That, or they didn’t even notice, which is pretty awful. It’s hard to imagine this scenario, since even ignorant parents would miss their kid at night, but it’s possible her home situation is just that bad. Based on her room, though, she seems well taken care of.

One thing in their favor is that Boo is independent, happy, and really expressive. The evidence would suggest she is often left with others, perhaps in a day care setting, since she never cried for Mama or Dada the whole time, but whether or not that works in their favor is uncertain. Honestly, I’m kind of surprised there weren’t any police or sobbing parents in her bedroom any of the times they tried to put her back in her world.

Either way, I weep for them.

Oh, and to address the whole “passage of time” theory (some people believe time didn’t pass the same way in the human world, therefore the night Boo returns is the same night she left), it doesn’t really hold up when you consider that Mike and Sully showed up, from the human world, just in time to save Boo from the Scream Machine. Speaking of the Scream Machine…

The Scream Machine is 1000x more terrifying

Yes, the idea of a machine that rips screams from you is pretty darn scary. As a kid, I was totally not cool with it. As a parent, that whole idea makes me want to punch a hole in the wall. When you’re a kid, you look at the world as it applies to you. When you’re a parent, you think of it as it applies to your kids.

So Randall and Mr. Waternoose are better off dead, in my mama bear mind. I’ve been through forced torture on my kid before, and all I have left to say is NO. Screw the scream shortage. I nearly cried when Boo was strapped into that thing. “What would her parents do? Omg, I would murder them all!”

Yeah, that’s what was in my mind. Pixar turned me into raging monster, and they didn’t even have to animate me.

Monsters, Inc. teaches something uncommon in the film industry

As much as I might gripe about the inconsistencies I now notice, I’ve realized something hopeful about this movie that I never had before. It teaches a very simple lesson:

Toddlers are people too.

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In movies, it seems largely ignored that toddlers are complex individuals all on their own. While most movies with a toddler character treat them only as they benefit the story of the older characters, MI doesn’t do this. Boo is not only an accurate representation of a toddler, presumably because she was modeled after and voiced by a real toddler, but she actually grows as a person in the course of the film. Her unique problems and victories are responded to by the main characters. It’s touching, really. Even Mike, the trademark “put that thing back where it came from or so help me” guy, grows to appreciate her as an individual.

Frankly, we could do with more films that treat toddlers this way. It may be easier for everyone but their parents to ignore them until they have fewer tantrums and better ideas, but they care so much more about the world than we realize. They treat everything they experience with all they got, whether good or bad, and our job is to help them figure it all out.

The compassion that Sully has for Boo is something we don’t see often in movies. The way Boo grows as a person, despite the fact that she’s a toddler, is also not often in movies. But these things happen every day. In fact, it’s my daily life. So I really appreciate it.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Monsters, Inc. Especially after having my own little Boo.

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