A year and a half after I first terrified Westley with Monsters, Inc., I decided it was probably safe to try again. The opening scene is still pretty scary to him, even though the red-eyed monster isn't really all that monstrous, and the screaming child is actually a robotic simulation. Unfortunately, I now find the main plot point so disturbing I can barely watch what was once my favorite Pixar film.
I think I've mentioned before that after Westley was born, I couldn't approach any media involving babies or children the same way. As he gets older, I seem to be getting even more sensitive. When a story involves a two-year-old, for example, I now remember what it was like to have a two-year-old. And if that two-year-old is in peril? I can't deal with it.
The major plot device in Monsters, Inc. just happens to be a child. We only ever know her as "Boo," and she's probably between two-and-a-half and three years old. One evening she walks through her closet door and into the monster world, where she spends the next 36 hours or so. The film makes it very clear that the "human world" works exactly how we human viewers would assume. There are visual references to time zones, talk of "the Eastern Seaboard," and time passes in both worlds equally. In other words, the monster world isn't Narnia. You don't step through a magic closet door and you're gone for hours, but when you go back home only about 30 seconds have passed. No, when Boo spends an hour in the monster world, that's an hour she's missing from her bedroom.
Let's break that down a little, shall we? This is a toddler we're talking about. A toddler who disappears out of her bedroom in the middle of the night—without a trace! And she's gone for about A DAY AND A HALF!
Last summer, when Westley was three and a half, he and I got separated at the zoo for about 45 seconds. In my panic, that 45 seconds felt like 45 minutes, at least. If Westley vanished from his room at night—even if he reappeared, unharmed, a day later—I would probably lose my mind completely.
Now, watching Monsters, Inc., all I can think about is that poor little girl's parents. I can no longer focus on any of the monster antics and Pixar cleverness. Even the fact that the movie is not only fictional but entirely computer-generated can't distract me from the idea that somewhere in this film's universe, a family is desperately searching for their daughter.