Monsters University Directed by: Dan Scanlon Cast: (voices of) Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Nathan Fillion, Helen Mirren Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: G Release Date: June 21, 2013
PLOT: A prequel to Monsters, Inc., it's college and the gang attends Monsters University. Mike (Crystal) and Sully (Goodman) haven't become friends yet, and they are forced to work together to make it in scare school.
WHO'S IT FOR? Pixar, college and G-rated fans ... Yes, once again Disney has attempted to cover all bases.
A Pixar sequel brings two different thoughts to mind. 1) Oh yeah! Another Toy Story? This is going to be amazing. 2) Oh god, another Cars movie? What a lame cash grab, I thought Pixar cared more than that. Thankfully, with Monsters University we're in the first category. This film is easy, breezy family entertainment.
Sure, I have a complaint. In Monsters, Inc. Mike says to Sully, "You've been jealous of my good looks since the fourth grade, pal!" In Monsters University they ignore this line and therefore slightly mess with the continuity. While it isn't going to hurt 99 percent of your enjoyment of the film, it does feel that they could have figured out a way to make that work. It's something you feel like they wouldn't bother with in the Cars franchise, but wouldn't dare with the Toy Story universe. Instead, they show us a younger Mike (which is the most adorable moment in the film) on a field trip to the factory he'll one day work in. He makes a pledge to attend Monsters University and become the best scarer he can be.
Once at Monsters University, we have every movie beat you would expect. Outcasts, jocks, and popular monsters all making monster puns and having a good time doing it definitely help pass the time. Sully is laid back, and a legacy in the scare department. He assumes he'll never have to try to get ahead. Mike understands he must work harder than anyone.
Monsters University seems like it would drag a little bit with the most predictable storyline. Mike and Sully aren't best friends yet, and to top it off, they're enemies. Thankfully, while we wait for them to figure out how to get along, we're given a wonderful cast of characters. Buscemi is back as Randy, and we get to see he wasn't always pure evil. If you are looking for evil, Dean Hardscrabble (Mirren) does the trick as someone who doesn't believe in Mike's chances to scare. Fillion stands out as the BMOC (Big Monster on Campus). My favorite? Joel Murray as Don, a salesman who goes back to school.
The film consistently peppers in what and how to scare (like a clown running in the dark), and they also go broad with a scare competition. Mike, Sully and other outcasts must attempt to prove themselves, just like in Revenge of the Nerds, and Old School, except rated G.
While it's nothing ground-breaking, Monsters University is really, really nice once it gets past the idea of Mike and Sully being at odds. There are plenty of lines to keep the adults laughing while the little ones are content with characters they already love. It proves Toy Story isn't the only film that deserves more than just one film.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10