Pixar’s display of bravura dates years back, when “Toy Story 3″ concluded with solid, tear-jerking moments, and since then has made animation flicks that are merely good; not remarkable ones in the likes of “WALL-E” and “Ratatouille.” What I have in mind is the recent “Brave,” which, technically is a great story of family and womanhood, but lacks that certain thrust Pixar has been renowned for back in the day. I still believe in Pixar, even after its minor and major stumbles (see both the first and the second “Cars” films), in that they will someday get back to producing not only top-notch animations but ones that bear a smart, tender and thoughtful story in them as well. We’ve had our taste for it, and naturally, we want it again. I believe we will get what we want, but not just in the form of “Monsters University,” a college foray-prequel to Pixar’s superbly imagined world of defanged monsters, “Monsters, Inc.“
This is not to say that the flick is terrible, or that it isn’t good. It is good; and maybe the problem is just that. To blame too is the natural descaling of the scope of the film, which now only revolves around a group of college frat brothers instead of a wondrous other-dimensional world of bubbly monsters. Telling that this is merely a visit to the characters we love, and in that visit we come to realize how much we really love them suffices to the entire purpose of the film. And if your admission to the film is paid for the same reason, you’ll get better satisfaction than what I got; and in more extreme cases, get smitten.
The back story between the duo of Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James “Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman) begins interestingly in college, at Monsters University. MU is a sought institution for monsters of all sorts, make them engineers or make them “scarers.” MU is the Princeton and/or Yale of the entire Monstropolis. Mike and Sulley are opposites. The former is an intelligent, driven student who dreams of becoming a scarer, despite his unlikely nature; the latter is a slouch, a fruit of some legacy of sort, and thus, acts like this unbreakable wall of douchebag. In our dimension, the former is that nerdy outcast desperate to fit in and the latter is that no-brainer trust-fund kid who feels like he’s king. They both get kicked out of the Scaring Program because of their unsorted differences and ultimately challenge their dean, named Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), that should they win the annual scaring event, she has to rescind their dismissal. Of course, it’s not going to be that easy.
Featuring the voices we’ve come to love (Crystal and Goodman’s; and Steve Buscemi’s as the evilish Randy), plus some new ones that make the film all the more enjoyable, “Monsters University” make for a great experience. While its temporal wonderment lasts, that is. It’s cute and sweet, and all. The animation is crispier than ever–I commend the animators of Pixar for really pushing the envelope. The direction is good but safe. The entire film is a safe, multi-million moneymaker. The only glorious thing here is, we get to visit the characters in their youth and see how they come to be these cuddly creatures we loved for more than a decade ago.
RATING: 2.5 stars (out of 4)
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY:
- “Heart-warming, moving, and funny.” — Daniel from Daniel’s Movie Reviews (read the review)
- “The film is delightful because of the Pixar touch, the solid story, and the wonderful characters.” — Shane from The Cinematic Katzenjammer (read the review)
- “Monsters University is still a pleasant, enjoyable movie for the family, but seeing as this is Pixar and knowing what it is that they can do with their originality, it does come as a bit of a disappointment, especially for most die-hard fans, if there are such people.“ — Dan from Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews (read the review)
- “It’s a story we’ve seen time and time again and the left and right turns this film makes are almost too predictable.” — Nick from French Toast Sunday (read the review)
- “I’m not sure this is in league with the best of Pixar’s best, but it definitelyis a high quality animated comedy, and is certain to be front and center in the discussion for animated movie of the year.“ — Fogs from Fogs Movie Reviews (read the review)