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Theme:   Turning the "System" Upside Down


Pixar's latest animated film brings to the screen the message of the power of love overcoming the power of fear.  Monster's, Inc. takes a loving and humorous look at what's inside a child's greatest fear (the dark closet) and comes up with a story that blesses people of all ages.  Just like the adult movies, The Last Castle and K-Pax it tells a timeless tale of the heart.

Turning the System Upside Down

There exists a "closed system" which is hierarchical in nature.

There is a proud taskmaster over the system.

The system creates an atmosphere of fear which breeds anger, strife, competition, corruption, disunity, hatred, and chaos.

Someone comes from the outside (another world/dimension) into the closed system and takes on the appearance of those at the bottom.

Even though they are in the system, their heart remains free.  They are fearless and do not operate by the rules of the closed system.

They possess clear insight into the heart of those in the system.

The presence of this "outsider" effects the entire system turning it literally upside down.

The power of fear is broken by the power of love released through the outsider.

The outsider leaves, but lives on in the hearts of those who have been transformed rather than conformed.


The Closed System

The metaphor for the closed system in Pixar's film is found in its title, Monster's, Inc.   "Monster's" is for the monster world in general; while "Inc." represents the corporation that provides energy.  In the opening scene of a "fright simulation", we learn that the greatest danger to this closed system is leaving a door open!  Mr. Waternoose, the head of the corporation, makes it perfectly clear that if a door is left open, the unthinkable could happen.....a child from another world might enter in.

The Taskmaster

There are several taskmasters in this film.  The obvious one is Mr. Waternoose who embodies all that is Monster's Inc.1  Seeming to be everywhere (multiple eyes and legs), he drives the lowly workers to obtain more "scream'",  for without it there is no power.  He is proud, greedy, and capable of wicked deeds in order to achieve his purposes.

Another taskmaster is the CDA (Child Detection Agency).  It operates like a powerful government agency with secret agents (Roz).  The faceless monsters in yellow suits have one mission and that is to seek out and destroy any contact with the world of children.

Lastly, we have Randall, who although he works at the bottom of the hierarchical system, personifies the evil corrupt heart that seeks to rise to the top and be the ruler. 

The Atmosphere

Fear is the atmosphere of Monster's Inc.  Frightening children and collecting their screams create the power that energizes and lights this whole world.  Ironically, those that create fear in others are also the most fearful.  Not only are the monsters afraid of the children they scare, they live with the fear of the CDA, which is merciless in its decontamination procedures.  This power hungry system creates competition and fear from the Corporate Head, Waternoose, to the lowly workers at the bottom.

The Outsider

The door is the symbol of this movie, and it is not surprising  that there is a special door lit by a spotlight and decorated with pink flowers.   The one who will change Monster World comes through this door.  Her name is Boo.  She is as unique as her door is unique.  Unlike the other children, she is not afraid to enter the Monster World.  She does so in grand style, clinging to the back of the scariest monster of all, James P. Sullivan.


Boo walks to the beat of a different drummer.  She is unaffected by the atmosphere of Monster World.  Having the freedom of a child's heart, she bounces and giggles her way right into the hearts of Sully and Mike, and in so doing, breaks all the rules of the closed system.


This freedom of heart also results in a purity of vision; she can clearly see into the hearts of others.  She recognizes Randall for what he is -- evil. She sees Sully for the big pussycat that he is; her nickname for him is "Kitty".

Upside Down

After Boo's entrance, Monster World will never be the same.  She wins the humble heart of Mike and the tender heart of Sully.  In their romp to get Boo safely back in her door, they uncover the ugly schemes of Monster's Inc.  In other words, truth is revealed (Randoll, Roz, and Waternoose are all unmasked), and hearts are set free.

Power of Love

There is a powerful message in Monster's Inc..  It is that perfect love casts out fear.  Love is the key that unlocks all the doors.  It opens the door to Sully's heart and allows Boo to come in.  She displaces his fear of children,  Waternoose, the CDA, and of being cast out into exile.  She so fills his life that when he hurts her, it is beyond what he can bear.  She has loved him perfectly and unconditionally.

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."2  This is the love Mike demonstrates for Sully made evident by his wounded hands.  The law of Monster World required Boo's door to be shredded. With his heart set free, Mike has chosen to operate under a higher law of love.  He has gathered all the pieces to her door and put them together for Sully.  Only one piece remains missing.  
"It only works if you have all the pieces," he humbly tells Sully.  Sully has and is the missing piece.  As he inserts the missing piece into the door, the light comes on, the door opens to another world, and he hears his pet name, "Kitty".


Mike and Sully have made a greater discovery than "children are not lethal" through their adventure with Boo.  They have discovered that joy creates ten times the power of scream.  This joy, which is so much greater than fear, now permeates and energizes all of Monster's Inc.  Everyone's life is transformed.  Mike, the humble sidekick, is released to go into the children's rooms and be the comedian he has always wanted to be.  James P. Sullivan, the scariest monster of all, becomes the gentle giant CEO.  The joy that Boo brought into Monster's Inc. has "infected" all the workers. It was not lethal; on the contrary, it brought life.

Scripture:  I John 4:18-19
                  John 15:13
                  Matthew 18:1-14


1Corporation:  (5) Informal.  A paunch, potbelly.  Webster's Dictionary

2John 15:13

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