Monsters University

Monsters University- A Message from the Dean

Monsters University

Director: Dan Scanlon

Writers: Dan Scanlon, Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird

Voice Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Bobby Moynihan, Noah Johnston, Julia Sweeney, Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Bill Hader, Beth Behrs, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger

Synopsis: A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University -- when they weren't necessarily the best of friends.

MPAA Rating: G

It's time to go back to school, and learn to scare us some kids! Whoohoo! Wait...that didn't sound right....

Since "Brave", Pixar has been getting a lot of flak lately about how they're losing their touch with animated movies these days. Although I didn't care too much for "Brave", I do find it to be a bit harsh for people to say that. I mean the film still made a lot of money last year, and it did win the Oscar for best animated feature. Granted, I don't always agree with the Academy's picks, but it's still rather strange people would say this after "Brave" won an Oscar, and made a lot of money. I mean you'd swear that the film might've bombed or something if you listen to some of the people that didn't like it.. However, most of the people that criticize "Brave" do cite that the film was good, but it wasn't up to Pixar's usual standards.

I guess that's a fair assessment. After all, Pixar has set the bar for itself fairly damn high to where sure "Brave" would've been a great movie for another animation film studio like Illuminati or even Dreamworks perhaps, but not for Pixar. An animation studio that put CGI animated films on the map. A film studio that single handedly resurrected Disney as the animated film juggernaut it used to be. And, it's a studio that's been infamously known for pushing the boundaries of storytelling in their animated features. Whereas "Brave", it was nothing more than just another rebellious Princess story; minus a prince charming love interest.

And with fans disappointment that the "Cars" spin off called "Planes" is getting a theatrical release, it seems Pixar has it's hands full trying to win back audiences into believing they haven't lost their touch. Granted, "Monsters University" isn't their best work out there, but it's definitely a step in the right direction to win back fans.

As some of you might've figured out from watching the trailers, the movie is basically a prequel to Pixar's classic "Monsters Inc"; where we see how Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) meet in college, and inevitably become best friends.

Mike is portrayed as the nerdy outcast that's majoring in scaring, as it's been a lifelong dream of his since he was a kid. Unfortunately, due to his looks and limited stature, he doesn't often get the respect he deserves, so he's often having to work harder than everyone else just to prove he belongs with the big boys, when it comes to scaring.

As it was established in the previous movie, the monsters' world thrives off the energy of children's screams. Needless to say, all monsters that are brave enough to enter this kind of work are idolized like they're sports stars, with their own trading cards and everything; which is something Mike wants more than anything in the world.

Meanwhile, Sulley comes from a long line of famous scarers over the years, and due to his physical appearance, he's often given way more credit than he deserves. Unlike Mike, Sulley doesn't have to work as hard to be scary, which makes him come off as a bit of jerkish jock type at first.

Long story short, Mike ends up in a fraternity full of nerds and weirdos; while Sulley ends up in a fraternity full of jocks and popular monsters. Somehow, both Sulley and Mike find themselves getting kicked out of Monsters University's scare program. In one last ditch effort to convince the dean they can be legitimate scarers, our heroes team up within the fraternity of nerd monsters to compete in the scare games at the university.

The dean promises them that if they can win, then they'll both be admitted back into the program but if they lose, then they'll both be kicked out of the university altogether. As many readers can probably tell, the film does take a lot of elements from the classic "Revenge of the Nerds" franchise, where you have a college fraternity full of dweebs, geeks, nerds and weirdos competing against the popular kids. It's a classic story that I'm sure most audiences have seen a million times before because lets be honest here...who doesn't love a good underdog story? Which is exactly what "Monsters University" is.

Does that mean "Monsters University" is a bad movie? Certainly not. If anything, I found the film to be enjoyable. Sure, it ripped off a classic formula that's been done to death a million times in movies, but Pixar somehow manages to make it still feel fresh and innovative anyway.

The characters are memorable, and the character designs are very creative as well. In fact, I would dare even say that the visuals in this film are way better than it's predecessor. As for the voice acting, I thought everyone played their parts rather well; which is something that's always been solid in every Pixar movie.

Of course, since this is a prequel, the movie does have some minor continuity errors that conflict with the first movie. For instance, Mike has a brief line, in "Monsters Inc", where he mentions how they were best friends since 4th grade. However, in this movie, they don't even meet until they're in college. Granted, it's a small nitpick that I'm sure most audiences won't notice, or they simply won't care, but it's worth pointing out.

Having said all that, "Monsters University" was a fairly entertaining family film. Sure, the movie was predictable to some extent given the nature of it's story, and the fact that a prequel has the daunting task of having it's ending coincide with the last one. However, it's a fun ride nonetheless that you simply find yourself not caring whether or not you know how this will turn out. If anything, the characters and world that Pixar creates here is so vast that you find yourself getting immediately lost in it. Plus, Pixar does leave quite a few surprises as well throughout this movie, to help keep it interesting.

Overall, I wouldn't say it's better than "Monsters Inc", but it's visuals are definitely superior to it's sequel. In the end, I'd have to give "Monsters University" a three out of four. It's worth checking out in theaters either in 3-D if you can afford it. However, it's still impressive enough to watch in regular 2-D as well, as you'll get your money's worth either way.

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