Monsters University (2013)

Director: Dan Scanlon

Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren

I think I was more excited for this one than the little kiddies were. For the first prequel that Pixar has done, there was something really special about revisiting these awesome characters that we have come to love so much from Monsters Inc.  Not only that, but Pixar has again reminded us why they are the top dogs in animation today and left me in awe of what we can accomplish through a computer.

Plot: We start by revisiting Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) pre-Monster’s Inc. years. His ultimate dream is to attend Monsters University and become the best in the scaring program. Constantly getting put down by other monsters for his lack of scariness, he has taken it upon himself to prove everybody wrong. However, due to a mishap with his rival, Jimmy Sullivan (John Goodman), he along with Sullivan gets kicked out of the scaring program. Not wanting to give up on his dream, Mike comes up with a plan to persuade the Dean to let them back into the program. In order for this plan to work though, Mike has to prove that he can work with Sully and must enlist the help of some unlikely monsters as well.

From the moment that the short at the beginning of the movie started, called “The Blue Umbrella”, we got to see some true magic on the screen. You know technology has come far when you aren’t able to tell if various street objects, buildings, etc. are real or if they are animated! All I can say is that it was impressive. Although the animation really stood out during the short, it was very much present in the movie as well and it seems with each new movie they release the animation becomes more and more impressive. Of course, realism isn’t that important in a movie about monsters, but I really appreciated all those little things they added in just to enhance the movie (a frayed brim on Mike’s cap, the beautifully designed buildings of the campus, the realistic movement and look of grass and trees, the reflection off of Mike’s ID card during a close up shot of it).

All of the visual elements of this movie were there, but the movie has an excellent story to precede the earlier movie as well. Pixar gave us a very interesting way in which Mike and Sully become friends, as they are pretty much rivals through most of the film. It’s fun to see these well-known character’s relationship develop throughout the movie, until eventually they become the best friends we know they were destined to be. Along with some cameos of a couple certain characters from the first film, there are plenty of funny nods to Monsters Inc. as well (my favorite of which is a poster on Randall’s wall, look out for it!).

Just like Monsters Inc. though, Monsters University has plenty of laughs for both the kids and the adults. The college atmosphere of the film really provides for some truly funny moments for the whole family. While watching the film you know the ending, obviously, because you know where Mike and Sully eventually end up. This doesn’t really cause any issues though, because the film gets from point A to point B in a creative way that isn’t too predictable and still serves to get across the Disney message “to never give up on your dreams”.

Conclusion: Monsters University wasn’t just a great predecessor to Monsters Inc., but a pretty great film that could stand out very well on it’s own. I was very impressed with the animation, story, and humor that proves that the movie is able to provide something for everyone to enjoy. There was just enough nostalgia towards the previous movie to remind us why we love the story so much mixed with plenty of fresh and fun material to keep us entertained with it. Well done, Pixar, but we’ll just see how you do with Finding Dory…

Rating: A+

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