Josh and Violet each review the Disney/Pixar computer animated film Monsters University, which is the prequel to Monsters Inc!
For this movie review of Monsters University, which is the latest film by Pixar, known for such films as Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Cars, I would have to say that it was much better than I thought it would be. For those unfamiliar with “Monsters”, the original film, Monsters Inc, revolves around Mike and Sully, two monsters working for Monsters Inc, a company that has their employees go through “magic” doors, that lead to children’s rooms, allowing the monsters to scare the children. This scaring provides an energy source for the world that the monsters live in. The movie eventually turns this scaring “business model” on its head, and the company discovers through Mike and Sully’s story that making children laugh provided just as much energy as scaring. Monsters University is a prequel to this story, focusing on the two characters Mike and Sully and their adventures in college.
The movie begins, focusing on Mike’s childhood. Mike, in what would appear to be elementary school, has his first interaction with Monsters Inc. His class is on a field trip at Monsters Inc, and we learn that he is bit of a “runt” and not the least bit scary, but after seeing the work of the monsters at Monsters Inc, he makes it his life goal to be the best “scarer” that he could be. After a brief montage showing his overachieving in school, Mike winds up at Monsters University, arguably the best school to attend to be a scarer for Monsters Inc.
Viewers are reacquainted with a lot of Monsters Inc monsters at Monsters University, including Randall, and even Sully. Mike comes in as an overachieving “bookworm”, however Sully is introduced as the “natural talent” that has the family name that he thinks he can coast through school with. Sully and Mike actually begin the story as adversaries, as Mike tries to rely on his book smarts to be the best Scarer, while Sully continues to use his natural abilities, which eventually cause these two to come butting heads. During their semester exam, they try to show each other up and attempt to scare each other, but rather than succeeding in that, they eventually destroy the Dean’s retired Scare Jar, thus being expelled from the university.
While both are devastated by their dismissal from school, Mike comes up with a plan to try to get himself back in. He decides to sign up for the “Scare Games”, a competition to prove which fraternity is the scariest. He makes a bet with the dean, that if his team wins, he will be allowed to re-attend the school. The catch is, he doesn’t have a team yet. He winds up joining a “nerdy” fraternity in order to get the members, but this still leaves him 1 person short for the games. This leads to him being forced to join up with Sully, thus bring the adversaries together. The movie then proceeds with the team overcoming its shortcomings, and especially for Mike and Sully, they discover that they would work better as a team, rather than attempting to one up each other.
Overall I found this movie very entertaining. I think my favorite part of the movie was actually seeing the journey of the two characters coming together from being mortal enemies to being best friends. Prequels always run the risk of feeling to repetitive, because we know what the ultimate destination for the story would be. Monsters University keeps things fresh though, bringing in old characters, but does well to portray them as teenagers finding their way through college, and being relatable enough that I actually cared what happened to them in their journeys. I also felt the story was very compelling, and not as straightforward as one might think a Disney/Pixar movie would be.
Of course the movie isn’t flawless, especially since I am a grown adult, it does play to children quite a bit. There are some just plain silly scenes that I found hard to enjoy. On the whole though, the story is certainly something that people of almost any age can relate to in some way. It was also great that we got the same voice actors back, making the characters familiar enough as they should be.
Overall I would rate the movie a 7.5, as it was a lot of fun, with a compelling story. As a side note, I really enjoyed the short film at the beginning. These tend to be almost as entertaining as the film itself, and provide an emotional story even though it is packed in about 5 minutes. Glad to see those umbrellas were able to get together after all! This movie would be great for children though, they will get a lot of the usual Disney/Pixar silliness, along with a story that most parents will enjoy as well.
Monsters University is the prequel to the 2001 Disney/Pixar computer animated film Monsters Inc. In the original film, we saw best friends Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James “Sully” Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman), also known as “Kitty,” working as a Scare Team at Monsters Inc. to capture energy from scaring human children, which was then used to power the monsters’ world. Monsters University shows us how Mike and Sully ended up together at Monsters Inc.
The prequel starts off when Mike goes on a field trip with his elementary school class to the Scare Floor of Monsters Inc. Upon seeing a few Scarers up close, and even meeting one, he decides that he wants to work there as a Scarer when he grows up. So when he gets older, he heads off to Monsters University, which has one of the best Scare Schools around.
While there, he meets Randall (voiced by Steve Buscemi), who you may remember as the bad guy in the original movie. Although Randall tries to convince Mike to go out and party, Mike refuses, because he is very serious about his studies. In class, Mike also comes across Sully, who apparently comes from a family with a long tradition of being Scarers. Sully soon gets invited to join Roar Omega Roar, the most elite Scare fraternity on campus.
Mike and Sully seem to become rivals, as Mike spends the semester studying, while Sully slacks off and relies on his natural scaring abilities get him through class. Sully’s method works at first, but as the semester goes on, it appears that Mike’s dedicated studying has helped him to master the theory of scaring, while Sully has made no progress. It gets to exam day, and Sully’s fraternity threatens to kick him out if he doesn’t pass. Mike and Sully start to face off while they’re waiting their turns in the simulator, and they accidentally knock over the very scary Dean’s record-breaking scare container, for which she kicks both Mike and Sully out of the Scare Program.
A depressed Mike and Sully are relegated to learning how to make scare containers. That is, until Mike remembers about the Scare Games at the last minute, for which he has to join the nerdy fraternity, Oozma Kappa, in order to gain entry into the Games. He also makes a deal with the Dean that if he wins the Scare Games, then he can get back into the Scare Program, but if he loses, he’ll leave Monsters University. Much to Mike’s dismay, he also has to allow Sully to join the fraternity to meet the minimum number of participants per team. Mike and Sully then move into the frat house and befriend the members, who are all misfits. As they train for the Scare Games, they learn the true value of teamwork and how to work together, despite everyone’s differences.
Although it was obvious that the film borrowed and recycled ideas from other “jock fraternity vs. nerdy fraternity” type movies and TV shows, it’s not as cliché and stereotypical as you might think, as there’s a fresh spin on those aspects due to the fact that these are monsters, not humans. Besides, kids probably would not have noticed the reuse of those scenarios anyway. Regardless, the movie is not as predictable as you might think, as there were a few things that happened that surprised me and that I did not see coming.
I also liked the fact that the Scare Games included not only fraternities but sororities as well, and they all competed against each other, which showed that females as well as males are valued as Scarers. Additionally, not only was there a preppy girly-girl type sorority, but there was also a goth looking sorority, showing that all kinds of females could be Scarers.
All in all, Monsters University was a good, funny movie that both adults and children alike could enjoy, and even learn a lesson or two from! You don’t even have to have seen Monsters Inc. to be able to enjoy it, although it is fun to pick out familiar faces, and see how Mike and Sully became friends.
My rating: 7.5. Not the best Pixar film, but a very good one that is worth seeing!
As with every Pixar film, before the main feature we got to see a Pixar Short. This one was entitled “The Blue Umbrella,” and was about a blue umbrella in the midst of a sea of black umbrellas who meets a red umbrella, and tries to find his way back to her when they become separated. It was a well done, unique concept that I ended up liking a lot and made me smile.
P.S. Make sure you stay after the credits!
P.P.S. Keep your ears peeled for Nathan Fillion. He does the voice of Johnny Worthington, the president of Roar Omega Roar!