Most people know Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) as that inseparable and successful duo from Monsters Inc. However, they weren’t always best friends. In Monsters University, the story is told of how Mike and Sully became the scream team seen in Monsters Inc.
Mike Wazowski has a dream to be a scarer. Ever since visiting Monsters Inc. as a young monsters, this has been his goal that he is striving for. And the best place to learn be a scarer? Monsters University of course. However, things aren’t just that simple. As anyone who has seen Monsters Inc. can attest, Mike just isn’t that scary. He is the smartest guy in the room but the University is looking for scary. James P. Sullivan, on the other, has loads of natural talent. However, he thinks a good roar is plenty to scare any kid….and he’s lazy and stuck on being popular. Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) wants more than just a monster who can roar and happens to have a well known family name. These two deficiencies soon cause both of them pitted together in an effort to save their careers and dreams at Monsters University.
Monsters University is an enjoyable movie. It does a good job of telling the origin story of Mike & Sulley in a way that anyone who has been to college can relate to. The film moved along at a decent rate and was enjoyable to watch. It wasn’t as original as the first movie but… that’d be hard to do. It instead builds off of what is already known from the first movie. This creates a sense of familiarity and comfort right from the get go. It also has the audience invested in the characters while creating a nice little backstory for some favorite monsters. Yes, there are some continuity issues that come with this. However, that was fairly easy to discount and just sit back and enjoy the movie.
Visual & Audio
Monsters University was everything one would expect from Pixar Animation Studios. The characters look great. They have de-aged well and Pixar has done a great job making Mike and Sulley look younger. The University itself appeared to be a conglomeration of buildings from various famous schools and it was fun to see familiar, yet different, landmarks. The audio track that accompanied the movie was at an equal level of quality. Sound effects were great. The surround sound enveloped the theater. Most importantly, care was also made to make sure Mike and Sulley not only looked younger but also sounded younger.
Randy Newman’s soundtrack fit this movie perfectly. A drum line was brought in to give the feel of college life. The score also appeared to have nods to other Pixar soundtracks. This would be a bonus feature that would be fun to see on a future blu-ray release. Once again, Newman delivered music that just felt like it was a Pixar movie.
The characters were absolutely wonderful in this film. Beyond Mike and Sulley, there was a host of supporting characters that filled the movie with personalities one would expect to see at a college or university. Helen Mirren’s Dean Hardscrabble was delightfully strict and imposing. Seeing how Randy (Steve Buscemi) started off was a bit of a surprise and at times heartwarming. The students at the school were hilarious to see. They ranged from the jock frat boys to the outcast geeks….with everything in between…. all monsters… there was definitely some interesting looking creatures to be seen. The various fraternities and sororities were quite humorous as well.
Monsters University is telling a fun story. It’s about how two best friends became the best friends that they are. It’s a story that makes sense and is also fun to watch. It isn’t necessarily the most original story in the world. Sometimes originality isn’t the most important thing though. It also isn’t a film that’s going to take the viewer on a deep emotional journey where they wish they had brought tissue to the theater (ala Toy Story 3). Instead, this movie taps into the positive bonds of friendship and the nostalgia of college life. It is just a fun buddy film. It’s that kind of film that is perfectly accompanied by a bag of popcorn, favorite sweets, a cold beverage, and good friends.
The Blue Umbrella short was not a best short ever released by Pixar Animation Studios. While it looked beautiful, it just didn’t have a fantastic or original story and that basically sums up the whole thing.
Monsters University is a positive film with a positive message. It could be easy to nit pick at it for things that it isn’t that other Pixar films are however… it is a good film that is most importantly, entertaining. There are parts of it that might be a little bit confusing for the younger ones (like the little boy with a flashlight who sat behind me and was flummoxed by the word flunking), but overall it is once again proof that Pixar knows how to make family friendly films. It’s definitely worth a hat tip and an encouragement to go out and see it. Oh yea, and keep a sharp out eye out for some easter eggs. They are most certainly there!