Monsters University Review – Good But Not Great

It’s been 12 years since we’ve seen Mike Wazowski and Sulley in the original Monsters Inc. Pixar has made another sequel prequel to one of their movies not named Cars in the form of Monsters University. MU is set before and leads into Inc. While the original was maybe a 60/40 split between Sulley and Mike being the main characters, University is mostly Mike’s story, with Sulley acting more like a tag-a-long. The movie even admits this itself by the end.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Aaahh!! Real Monsters with the original, and even more so with the prequel. Real Monsters was a Nicktoons show during the ’90’s about monsters going to school, learning how to scare. One difference between Nick’s and Pixar’s version is the amount of gross and tasteless nonsense. Real Monsters, like many shows at the time (Ren and Stimpy, Rocko), were really disgusting. Pixar’s series has none of that. The parallels were a little hard to draw between Real Monsters and Monsters Inc, but with University, it was more obvious.

Pixar movies for me have always been wholly original, or so different from whatever template they were carved from, that it was almost unrecognizable (Incredibles, Nemo, Up). Monster’s University is pretty much like any college movie you’ve seen before, most specifically Revenge of the Nerds. Does that make it bad? Not in the slightest, this is just Pixar’s version of a college comedy, albeit with their Monster characters.

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The movie begins with a young Mike Wazowski on a field trip to Monsters Inc., to learn about scaring. Immediately we’re shown he’s a bit of a pariah amongst his fellow classmates, stuck with the teacher as a field trip buddy. After seeing what a professional scarer does, his heart is set on going to Monsters University to learn scaring. Throughout the entire film, he’s constantly reminded of how he doesn’t belong there for no reason other than he looks different. He doesn’t look scary, and no amount of studying or hard work will change that. He and Sulley meet, and become instant enemies. Only through a series circumstances are they forced to work together, becoming best friends and an even better team.

Mike being different was driven until the very end. It wasn’t until the final scenes were it was clear what the message was. I was actively trying to discern how they were going to turn this around at the end to make it positive. I was starting to feel bad for Mike, whose dedication was unwavering. He knew what he wanted to do with his life and he wouldn’t let anyone tell him no. The last 20 minutes was a great scene of Mike and Sulley working together, tying up the movie nicely.

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If you’ve ever seen a college type comedy, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this. Does that make it sub-par? Not in the slightest. I really enjoyed it, laughing out loud a few times. It is definitely a worthy follow up to Monsters Inc. and the Pixar line. My only problem with the movie was it felt like it lacked the spark of originality or creativity that Pixar has trained me to expect.

THE BLUE UMBRELLA

I didn’t care for the short that opened the movie, The Blue Umbrella. Last year’s Paperman that accompanied Brave was amazing. It told a sweet love story without words and inanimate objects in a handful of minutes. Umbrella did much of the same. The story took place in a city, with street lights, gutters, and sidewalks given faces with the clever placement of bolts and vents to act as eyes and mouths. They worked together to unite a blue and red umbrella who fancied each other. Again, it felt like I saw this last year.

What did you think of Monsters University? Think Inc. was better? Comment below!

The Planes trailer annoyed me.

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