By Steve Daly
September 20, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Monsters, Inc: ©Disney/Pixar

One-eyed Mike and double-horned Sulley, the working-stiff heroes of Monsters, Inc., made their last major public appearance at the Academy Awards, sheepishly applauding the victory of ”Shrek” over ”Monsters, Inc.” as the Best Animated Feature Film of 2001. What a shame they got saddled with that loser image, because eyeballed again, at a remove from A-B comparisons — literally the respective grades assigned ”Shrek” and ”Inc.” by many critics — ”Monsters” has its own A-worthy pleasures. In fact, it now seems like the perfect post-Enron fable: Top monster-world ”scarer” Sulley, who harvests energy from children’s screams, discovers he labors for a thoroughly corrupt company. (Leading myth sold to employees: Human kids are ”toxic” and on some level inhuman, therefore no harm done scaring them.) While younger viewers get to vanquish fears of bogeymen, adults will grasp that Sulley vanquishes a scarier monster: corporate greed. (This will probably not be a staple in Kenneth Lay’s home theater.)

The movie’s profundity of invention spills into video bonuses, including the Oscar-winning Pixar short ”For the Birds” and a cute new Mike-and-Sulley quickie, ”Mike’s New Car.” The two-disc DVD also holds a vast vault of beautiful conceptual art, funny scrapped scenes, and inspired gewgaws like ”flyarounds” that track through the film’s ”sets” as if they’re real locations (so real you see a character manning a camcorder, reflected in a mirror). You may laugh more energetically at ”Shrek,” but on video ”Monsters, Inc.” is ultimately a more empowering world in which to get pleasantly lost.

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