Starts June 20, 2013
Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Writing credits: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanlon
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren
Length: 110 minutes
Would you have what it takes to be a scarer, the most respected career for a monster? You would have to work on your scare techniques, study hard, and practice to become the best scarer you can be, and then, if you’re lucky, you might be accepted to be a scare major at Monsters University. Ever since Mike Wazowski (Crystal) was a small child, he knew what he wanted to be: a scarer. However, his small stature and not-so-frightening physique proved to make him more of a joke than a frightening monster. Despite this, he works extremely hard and manages to get accepted to the prestigious scare program at Monsters University. When his competition with James P. “Sully” Sullivan (Goodman) gets them both kicked out of the scarer program, they must work together with a bunch of misfits in order to try and get back into the program.
In Monsters, Inc. (2001), we are introduced to the character Sully and Mike though the story revolves more around Sully’s development through his interaction with the little girl Boo. In contrast, Monsters University is more Mike’s story, from his childhood problems of not being taken seriously, to his extreme work ethic to overcome his physical failings, and his eventual teamwork with Sully in college to become a great scarer. The prequel makes the rather self-absorbed Mike become a much more sympathetic character, and makes his side-kick role in Monsters, Inc. slightly depressing. You realize in the prequel that even though he works hard to become a good scarer, in actuality he spends most of his career being Sully’s sidekick. I am not sure what lesson is supposed to be learned from this story. Maybe that sometimes you have to accept that you can’t always achieve what you want to? It seems a little bleak in comparison to the usual happy-go-lucky Disney fare.
Monsters University is a pleasant film with decent jokes, but it doesn’t live up to the charm of the original. It begs the question whether Pixar is starting to fall into the normal Disney trap of making needless sequels merely for the money, rather than a need for the continuation of the story. Monsters, Inc. was finished with all ends tied, so they were forced to go and make an unneeded prequel, and this forced story can really be felt throughout the movie. Regardless, it is an enjoyable film that undoubtedly children will love, but it just doesn’t stand out as one of Pixar’s best. ()