Monsters University

Review by Chris Daniels

Monsters University brings Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and the whole gang back in what I can only describe as a huge win.

Twelve years after Disney and Pixar brought us the wildly successful Monsters Inc., Pixar finally follows up with this year’s must-see family movie, which comes to us in the form of a prequel.

Monsters University opens by showing us a very young Mike Wazowski, who gets lost on a school trip to a very familiar scare floor at Monsters Inc. After surviving a trip to the human realm, he receives a hat from one of the professional scarers, emblazoned with MU. From that point on, a wide-eyed Wazowski dedicates his life to getting into Monsters University.

Fast forward many years and Mike is at his first day of college. MU becomes the backdrop for the education, friendships, scare games, and destiny-setting events that lead into the original movie we already know and love.

I was a bit skeptical going in I was a fan of the original, but prequels are damned hard to pull off, and kid/family movies aren’t typically my preference. Fortunately, after the first 15 minutes, the humor started picking up. The writers, designers, and artists did a masterful job of combining kid-humor antics with adult humor. Like many Pixar films, it contains one-liners and inside jokes that require life experience to really appreciate. (There was nothing dirty, just more adult-themed quips.)

I was impressed by the pacing, the detail, and the seamless flow of the animation, not to mention the excellent voice talent. Crystal, Goodman, Nathan Fillion, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, and all the other actors did top-notch work.

I do have two complaints. There was not one mention of Mike Wazowski’s parents. We don’t know who they were or what they did, nor did we even get a visual of what they looked like. In a world occupied by such a wide variety of monsters, my curiosity was piqued. Even more maddening was the repeated mention of James P (Sulley) Sullivan’s father, who was apparently a very famous scarer. Sully is repeatedly reminded of living up to the family name, yet we never see so much as a picture showcasing his family. Perhaps this was addressed in a scene that didn’t make it from storyboards to the final cut.

Those minor issues aside, Monsters University is done very well, and it is extremely entertaining. From the many laugh-out-loud moments to the solemn, tear-jerking scenes, this movie is a real win.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Editor: Jeff Boehm