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The "Monsters, Inc." movie, which begins screening in Israel today, is received by a market that has become accustomed to this marketing routine: Specials at the supermarket, large and small figures of the friendly monsters at toy stores, computer games, books, stickers, and a toy that comes along with a kid's meal at the fast food chains. (We can soon expect to see the monsters imprinted on clothes, socks, sheets, pencil cases and backpacks.)

The movie

"Monsters, Inc.," produced by Pixar Animation Studios ("Toy Story," "A Bug's Life") introduces a child to the enemy and shows that he isn't so terrible. If children think they are afraid of the monsters lurking in the closet, in drawers and under the bed, this film comes to teach them that this fear is definitely mutual - the monsters not only are afraid of children, they even fear that children are poisonous. If they return to their monster world, Monstropolis, from the human world and discover that they have inadvertently brought something with them (like a sock that stubbornly stuck to the back of the monster), they immediately undergo a thorough disinfecting.

The monsters work in the Monsters, Inc. factory that manufactures closet doors leading straight to the rooms of sleeping children. Each monster in the factory receives a quota of doors and must pass through the doors in order to bring forth screams of fright from children - screams that produce some sort of energy. As in every factory worthy of its name, there is a contest for the most outstanding employee. The hero of the story is the perennial winner of the outstanding employee award: James P. Sullivan, aka Sulley (voice by John Goodman in the English language version). Sulley is a huge, horned monster with blue fur and purple spots. His accomplishments also belong to his personal trainer, a one-eyed frog with two horns, who answers to the name Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal). As always, there is also someone seeking to steal the crown of excellence. This time, it's Randall (voice of Steve Buscemi) - a lizard monster with the characteristics of a chameleon, who breathes down Sulley's neck. The monsters learn a lesson about the world of children thanks to a little girl, who is mistakenly called Boo.

"Monsters, Inc." produced by Walt Disney-Pixar. Director: Pete Docter. Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson. Music: Randy Newman. Editing: Jim Stewart. United States, 2001, 95 minutes. In English or dubbed in Hebrew.

Games

The monster world is also in recession. In the movie, the monsters complain that children are no longer easily frightened - television programs and computer games have toughened them. The Monsters, Inc. computer games do not arouse any fright or even any tension. They are too nondescript. The computer games produced by Disney Interactive are different in format than most computer games. These are mini-games and there are four of them in the Monsters, Inc.series. (When you collect them all, you receive a new game, so there are actually five games in all.) They are priced inexpensively, one game per CD, which includes a film clip (in English) with the characters from the movie. The characters are not featured in the games themselves. These are simple and good games, like billiards, pinball, and something reminiscent of the classic Space Invaders game called Monster Tag. They are intended for ages 6 and up.

One of the characters from the movie appears on each of the covers of the cleverly named games: Sulley is featured on the package of Billiard Beast and Pinball Panic is graced with the full portrait of Randall. A bespectacled snail named Roz appears on the cover of the Monster Tag game and Mike is displayed on the package of Scream Alleys.

Each game costs NIS 30 and even if you buy all four games for NIS 120, the price is still lower than a regular computer game. But all of them together, even with the secret game hidden in them, can not compete with a good movie-based computer game like the Harry Potter one that is constantly displayed on many childrens' computer screens of these days. The Monster, Inc. games do not compare to the Disney action games either ("Hercules," "Toy Story 2," and more). A full action game of Monsters, Inc. is scheduled to be in stores in about two weeks and this definitely promises to be better.

Monsters, Inc. Four mini-games for the computer. Disney Interactive. For ages 6 and above. Compatible with Windows 95, 98, ME, XP. NIS 30 per game.

Dolls

In the United States, there was real competition between the products accompanying the two movies "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Monsters, Inc." A longer period of time elapsed between the releases of the two films in Israel and this timing made it clear who would be the winner. A quick glance at the number of Harry Potters at Purim parties next week will presumably provide the answer. In any case, the large, illuminating and snoring figures of Sulley are already on the shelves of toy stores. There are also smaller figures in plastic, in the style of action heroes like the Ninja Turtles, and priced accordingly. These include Randall, Mike and Henry J. Waternoose, the factory manager at Monsters, Inc., who is sort of a hybrid of an octopus and sea lion

Sulley, a large furry stuffed animal, NIS 190. Mike, a medium-size plastic figure, NIS 70. Sold by Hasbro. At toy stores.

The marketing promotions you can't avoid

And this is really not all. From the moment children begin to read, there is a profusion of advertisements and promotions that parents generally manage to ignore: dead spaces in the newspaper suddenly come back to life and children go around humming jingles from the television. There are few parents who do not succumb to one promotion or another that their child has convinced them to partake in. A kid's meal at McDonalds, with toys from the movie as gifts, will be nearly mandatory to go with the movie.

Other products will accompany the children from their morning cornflakes, up until the time they brush their teeth before going to bed. You can buy five products from two giant conglomerates in order to enter a drawing competition for huge monster dolls. There are also products sold with small monsters in each package (candies, ketchup) and tooth brushes and toothpaste with pictures of the characters.