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Toon Talk: Up and Monsters, Inc. Blu-Rays
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
November 18, 2009
Kirby reviews Disney / Pixar's recent Blu-Ray releases of Up and Monsters, Inc..
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt

Up and Monsters, Inc.

Disney Blu-Rays
MPAA Ratings: PG  G

No Country for Old Men … or Monsters

Up and Monsters, Inc., the two Pixar favorites that made their Disney Blu-ray debuts last week, share more than just a production company and a director (Pete Docter). Taking a look at their main characters, one can see several similarities:

  • The Unlikely Hero: Is there anything more unlikely for a film’s protagonist than a big blue monster by the name of Sulley who jumps out of closets to scare children for a living? Well, Up one-ups Monsters with its geriatric leading man, Carl Fredricksen, who through the course of his adventures becomes an octogenarian action hero to rival John McClane.
  • The Precocious Child: Both Boo (the little moppet who “invades” Monstropolis) and Russell (the chirpy Wilderness Explorer who stows away on Carl’s floating house) prove to be more than just obstacles in the main character’s lives … they help them discover new ones.
  • The Scene-Stealing Sidekick: What could be funnier than a walking eyeball? How about a talking dog? “Squirrel!”
  • The Nefarious Villain: Pixar isn’t exactly known for their villains, and Monsters’ Randall Boggs is one of their weakest (even with Steve Buscemi’s voice). Up’s Charles Muntz fares better with his rich back-story and clear-cut motivations.

The similarities don’t end there though, as the newly released Blu-ray/DVD combo packs prove. (Although billing them as 4-disc sets is a bit misleading as three of the discs -- Blu-ray disc 1, the standard DVD and the “Disney File” digital copy -- are all essentially the same thing: the movie itself.) As one could expect, the films look awesome in high definition. And, as always with Pixar, the host of bonus features are filled with content both informative and entertaining (although, not surprisingly, most of the Monsters supplements are carried over from its previous 2-disc special edition DVD).

First up is Up, whose first disc includes two bonus animated shorts, one old, one new. Partly Cloudy, which screened before the main feature during it theatrical run (and not to be confused with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), is a cute tale that addresses the age-old question of where babies come from.  The second is the brand new Dug’s Special Mission, a prequel of sorts that shows the chain of events that led everyone’s favorite conversational canine to meet his new master. If you love Dug, you’ll love this one.

In addition to an alternate scene collection of “The Many Endings of Muntz” (where, ironically, it is never mentioned that he meets the same “falling from an extreme height” fate as so many Disney villains before him), disc one’s main bonus is the Travel Channel-esque “Adventure is Out There”. This fascinating featurette follows the filmmakers as they travel to Venezuela on a research trip for the film only to find themselves on an adventure of their own. You’ll marvel at the fact that the movie’s fantastical rock formations and exotic locales were all based on reality. (All of these bonus features are also included on the Up standard DVD.)

Disc 2’s bonuses begin with featurettes focusing on each of Up’s characters: Carl (“Geriatric Hero”), Dug (“Canine Companion”), Russell (“Wilderness Explorer”) and Kevin (“Our Giant Flightless Friend”), plus spotlights on Carl’s house (“Homemakers of Pixar”) and Muntz’s dirigible (“Balloons and Flight”). Up composer Michael Giacchino is also profiled in “Composing for Character”.

Remaining features include alternate versions of “Married Life”, the film’s most celebrated sequence, as well as a “Promo Montage” of humorous character vignettes, two theatrical trailers and the challenging geography-lesson-disguised-as-a-game “Global Guardian Badge Game”, wherein players are asked to identify states, countries and capitols to earn their own Wilderness Explorer Badges.

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