When I heard that Monsters University was in the works, I was less than enthused. I love most of Pixar’s movies, but 2001’s Monsters, Inc is not one of them. Throw in the fact that I feel that nearly all sequels (in this case prequel) fall flat when compared to the original, and you have a film that I really didn’t want to see.
The plot is something of a family friendly version of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds. Mike, Billy Crystal, is a hard working student that doesn’t fit in with the cool monsters. Sully, John Goodman, comes from a long line of scarers, and doesn’t feel it’s necessary to study to get through college. There is tension between the two, and their conflict boils to a point where it gets them both kicked out of the “Scare Program.”
Mike finagles a deal with Dean Hardscrabble, played awesomely by Helen Mirren, that will allow him back if his fraternity of misfit losers at Oozma Kappa can win the annual scare contest. Sully, who is smart enough to see that this is his only chance back into the program, joins them to help them win. Along the way, the monsters learn the importance of teamwork, trust, truthfulness, and hard work—all without the movie becoming preachy about it.
For the parents out there, I saw this film with my two nephews who are ages three and four. They saw the first Monsters movie on Blu-ray, and were scared many times as they watched it. I didn’t get that impression from them watching this one. If they were scared at all, they didn’t show it. From my perspective, the fear factor is low on this one other than a few moments where the sound gets loud as to startle the audience. The only call out I have is the scene where the human police are looking for Mike and Sully in our world. The movie drags, and I could see all the children around me lose interest and get a bit antsy.
For the adults, there is enough grown-up humor to get you laughing. It’s not along the lines of Shrek where you can quote it ad naseum, but it’s solid, and even though the story line is recycled, Monsters University is immensely entertaining from start to finish. In all, this prequel is vastly superior to its original, which is something that completely surprised me.