The long-awaited Monsters, Inc. is finally out of the closet — and has scared up $62.6 million on opening weekend, a record for an animated film. Pixar and Disney labored for more than four years to craft the tale of two amiable beasties, Mike and Sulley (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman), who find an errant human child (every monster’s worst nightmare) wandering around Monstropolis. With all that time to digitally sharpen every claw and buff every fang, the filmmakers managed to slip in some hard-to-spot visual gags and in-jokes. (Remember those bits from A Bug’s Life in Toy Story 2?) Let’s dive under the studios’ bed for a pixel-perfect look at Inc.’s winks.
SNOWMAN IS AN ISLAND Pixar drew some inspiration for Yeti (voiced by John Ratzenberger) from the Abominable Snowman of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the classic 1964 Claymation TV special. ”We were definitely influenced by that, although it wasn’t a direct copy,” says Monsters exec producer Andrew Stanton. ”[He] scared me a lot as a kid.”
WHAT, NO TATO SKINS? The vending machine at Monsters, Inc. contains goodies like Raccoon; Sinew Chews; Sugar, Salt & Fat; Bag O’ Calories; and Polyvinyl Chloride.
QUICK CUT In Pete’s Barber Shop — named for director Pete Docter — the services posted in the window include flea dip, mange management, scale polish, and claw wax.
FANGS FOR COMING Hidden City Cafe, the pit stop in Monstropolis, is the name of a real eatery in Point Richmond, Calif., a fave haunt of Docter’s. Owner Shellie Bourgault says she’s been feeding Pixar workers for 12 years, adding ”We’ll serve monsters. They’ll eat anything you put in front of them.”
CLEANING UP Soap dispensers in the monsters’ locker room say ”Do Not Eat.”
CEREAL FILLER Mike and Sulley’s larder is stocked with breakfast cereals: Kreature Krisp, Prickly Puffs, and Dirt Clods. In a market, boxes of Kreature Krisp feature too-small-to-read labels listing ingredients: bile, sweat & tears, artificial colors, sugar, and shrimp.
HIGH-TEKKA MAKI Harryhausen’s Sushi, another Monstropolis landmark and site of Mike’s romantic dinner with googly-eyed Celia, is named after animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen. ”[He made] the stop-motion monster movies that we all grew up on and love [like] Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts,” says Docter. Besides, he adds, ”his name just happened to sound like a ritzy restaurant.”