Monsters University is the latest Disney/Pixar prequel to cash-in on an already established franchise. The film is a sort-of prequel to Monsters Inc. — the hilariously clever animated film that Disney dropped on audiences back in 2001. Monsters University isn’t as good as the original, but it’s definitely a lot better than one might expect. It’s fun, quick and almost always painless, even if it does stretch its actual purpose of existing. There really is no need for a film like Monsters University, yet I’m glad Pixar decided to make this instead of another Cars sequel.
Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) were last seen as best friends in Monsters Inc. Now we must flash back to their college days at Monsters University, which is where the two first met and became bitter enemies. It’s no surprise that they didn’t get along at first, since Mike has always been the brains of the operation, while Sulley was always the best at delivering scares.
The two almost immediately hate each other upon first glances, but a situation causes them to team up with a band of misfits to prove their worth at the university and to hopefully keep them enrolled for the rest of the foreseeable future.
Can Mike and Sulley set aside their differences to find common grounds and become some of the best students at Monsters U or will the two ultimately fail and fall victim to the peer pressure from their fellow classmates and teachers? There really isn’t any reason to ask these questions, because we already know exactly what happens.
That’s part of the reason why Monsters University shouldn’t work. We know almost exactly how it is all going to play out, yet we still kind of want to see it unfold in typical Disney/Pixar fashion.
I’ve always liked Pixar movies that never took themselves too serious. I get that Pixar and Disney love to bring more mature animated films to the masses, because they almost always have some sort of universal point to make, but a film like Monsters University really only exists for nostalgic reasons and a possibly easy (or easier) paycheck in between original Pixar films. You liked Monsters Inc. and you want to see more of the same and that’s okay. Sometimes if you tweak things around just enough, while still keeping many things the same; you’ll end up with something like Monsters University.
The film is full of laughter. I’m talking deep belly laughs that will have you on the ground depending on your tolerance for all things cute and fuzzy. The jokes here are constantly flowing and always firing off in a surprising way that makes the film move quickly and without much pain. There are a few moments here and there that don’t necessarily stick, but nothing major holds the film back.
Billy Crystal and John Goodman do most of the heavy lifting in the voice-acting department as the film’s two main characters Mike and Sulley. They sink back into their roles almost as if not a year has passed since Monsters Inc.‘s release. This is good and reassuring, because Crystal has gotten really stale as of late, while Goodman has beefed up his presence in the drama genre. Here both men simply kick back and provide enough back-and-forth banter to entertain the audience, but never annoy. It’s fun watching Mike and Sulley “meet” for the first time, despite Monsters Inc.‘s brief bit of dialogue that mentions them being friends back in elementary school.
Director Dan Scanlon has no problem asking you to look past that and a few other things as he entertains with his creativity. The monsters and set designs are bursting with life and color. Unique and funny mix well in Monsters University and I’m glad that Disney/Pixar were able to come up with so many new creatures and jokes after such a long gap since Monsters Inc.
Monsters University is still something that probably could have not existed and no one would really stir a fuss. The story is serviceable in the sense that it moves Mike and Sulley from A to B, while filling in a few holes here and there, but it’s mostly just a minor event that’s supposed to feel large and game-changing for the two characters, but really only feels like it exists to bank in on an already established property.
This isn’t like Toy Story — where the sequels almost get better and better as they went. Monsters University is comparable to the first film, if not slightly below it since some ideas and concepts are simply rehashed. It works well for a prequel and has plenty of laughs and silly moments to please the kids and the adults. Just don’t walk in expecting the next best Pixar film or you might be slightly disappointed.
Monsters University – 8/10