Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Julia Sweeney, and more.
Directed by: Dan Scanlon Screenplay by: Robert L Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon Story by: Robert L Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon Original Music by: Randy Newman
Premise: Mike has always been overlooked, but early in life he realized what he wanted to be when he grew up – a Scarer. And his dream feels close to coming true when he shows up at Monster University on his first day in college. Yet he finds out right away that there are plenty of monster who feel he’s not qualified to be a Scarer, despite his high grades. Amongst them is Jimmy Sullivan, the son of a well respected Scarer. The road to his dream job, won’t be as easy as Mike thought. (Rated G)
1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their roles as Mike and Sullivan in this prequel to “Monsters Inc.” The banter and one liners are as witty as the original, except this time the two monsters are working against each other even when they are on the same team. Helen Mirren was fabulous as Dean Hardscrabble. She was scarier than just about everyone there, without having to roar. Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, and Charlie Day were a lot of fun as the rest of the members in the Oozma team. Julia Sweeney as Scott’s Mom was hilarious!
2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Pixar does marvellous work and it shows in every frame. Though the film is about a world of monsters, the look and the feel of Monster University is very much that of an old and famous university like Harvard, Yale, or Cambridge. Classical looking buildings, fraternities, orientation, school clubs looking for members, dorms, student rivalries, and all the other things one would expect as being part of the college experience. The tiny details to put all that together as well as adding things here and there things to make the world unique in its own right were amazing.
Using the versatility of animation, Pixar took full advantage and created many visual ‘gags’. The chase through campus for the stolen rival university’s ‘pig’ mascot was hilarious. Even more entertaining were the side effects experienced by those involved in the first test of the Scare Race.
3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: Since this is a prequel, a lot of the audience who are familiar with “Monsters Inc” will be expecting the eventual reconciliation between Mike and Sullivan due to their close friendship in the first film. What’s fun about the expectation, though, is the fact Pixar doesn’t make it easy. The problems are not something touched on then are quickly and easily resolved, but rather the eventual, expected outcome works in stages, which was quite nice.
A lot of the issues the two monsters face in the film can be plucked straight from real life or several college movies. But the one thing which will surprise many is that though this is considered a children’s film, the writers don’t solve the problem in an unrealistic way. If anything, the fact they show that rash actions do have consequences, and even punishment, is a path that’s not the ‘norm’ with movies made for kids. But all is not doom and gloom, the film also showed that even in failure one can still find a way to where they want to go. It might be a longer more arduous path, but eventually one might get there. Definite kudos for that.
4) Music – Total Thumbs Up: Music isn’t normally a category I use (though I am a definite believer in soundtracks being able to make or break a film), but it was definitely needed for this film. Randy Newman’s score was perfect – the main title song in the style played by any college marching band. It did a lot in immersing the audience into the whole college theme.
Conclusion: “Monster University” is a fun film with a lot of content for adults as well as kids. Very nostalgic in a way – bringing back memories of college days or 80’s college movies. The attention to detail is just amazing. Also, make sure to sit through the credits – there’s just a tiny bit of more fun at the end. (The short cartoon called “The Blue Umbrella” which shows before the main feature is adorable!)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again.)