Monsters University review
What another pleasant and enjoyable experience from Pixar! I've seen every Pixar movie, ever since Toy Story many years ago. Pixar (owned by Disney) has put out many movies that people consider to be classics: The Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars to name a few. One of the more famous movies to come from Pixar is Monsters Inc., which came out in 2001. Monsters Inc. was a tale about 2 monsters, Mike and Sulley, whose profession is to go into our world and scare human children to fuel their energy from our screams. One day, Sulley accidentally lets a little girl into the monster world, where monsters are terrified of children because they are "toxic". But, a villain in the factory plans to use the little girl to start a new way to drain all energy from children. It is up to Sulley and Mike to return the little girl home and stop the nefarious plan. The movie remains popular today, so for a sequel, Pixar instead went with a prequel of how Mike and Sulley got to be the heroes we know them to be today.
The movie opens with Mike Wazowski, voiced by Billy Crystal, as a little monster on a field trip to Monsters Inc.. Mike finds his calling and wants to grow up one day to be a scarer. Mike enrolls at Monsters University to pursue his dreams. There he meets Sulley, voiced by John Goodman, who is using his family name to slide through school. When the dean of the school, voiced by Helen Mirren, kicks them out of the scaring program, Mike and Sulley join the bottom-tier fraternity and enter the campus Scare Games to prove they are the scariest monsters around.
The cast is pretty good. Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprive their roles as Mike and Sulley, and they are once again great characters. In the last movie, the main focus of the film was Sulley's connection with the little girl. This time around, the focus is on Mike and his goal to be a top scarer. The monster in the spotlight is a better character in my opinion, but I believe Sulley and Mike were not as good in University as they were in Inc. Don't get me wrong, they are great characters and you learn to love them, but it was strange to see Sulley not as serious and Mike not as funny. They are both funny throughout and serious, especially in the 2nd half of the film, but they just weren't as memorable as the first movie, but they are great.
The rest of the cast is not as strong, and honestly not as memorable as the first movie. (I've said that too much already, my bad). The cast is still fun though, and there are a few standouts. Randal, voiced by Steve Buscemi, was a villain in Inc., but here he is just another student, and we see his evolution into a villain. I wish we saw more of that though, it seems we saw the highlights: innocent kid, join the wrong kids, evil. I wanted to see more of his evolution as a character, but I'm not gonna lie, I loved seeing him again. Dean Hardscrabble is given a terrifying intimidation factor being voiced by Helen Mirren. Her character design is cool and scary, but Mirren's voice gives her authority and I thought she was a great character. Mike and Sulley's 4 fraternity brothers are also awkwardly likeable, being funny and all, but we didn't get too much change out of them. That is probably the point though, these characters are nice and sweet guys, but through their journey, they learn how to scare, but they retained who they are. And in a movie about college, a pinnacle point in a person's life, it's important to remember to be happy with you are. Other various monsters have cool designs and bring alot of fun to the movie, and some laughs as well.
And honestly, I think that is Monsters University's biggest strength, its messages and story development. I promise you now, with the exception of Sulley and Mike ended up in Monsters Inc., this movie will not end the way you expect. This movie has a couple of little twists and some pretty strong messages. I wish I could go into more detail, but it really is great to figure it out on your own. The message the movie subtly delivers at the end of the movie is possibly one of the best messages you can send to a child, of any age. It teaches to work hard and never give up and that is something children always need to hear. If anything, take your kids to see this movie for its morals alone, let alone that it is a great movie.
Also, there are alot of great references for teenagers too, mainly college kids. I think college kids would get alot out of this movie because they've lived in, and they can see alot of their experiences in this movie (minus the monsters). You have the clubs, small dorms, frats and sororities, bad food and other things that are cleverly written in. There are also some great nods to Monsters Inc., whether it be the factory or character appearences.
You know where Mike and Sulley are going to end up by the end of the film, but it was alot of fun to see how they got there. We are treated to a fun romp through college, with some great characters we have known for over 10 years. Is the cast as strong as Monsters Inc.? No, but the cast is great and this story is also great. It is a fun movie to take your kids to see, and the ending sends a strong message that I am impressed Pixar expressed. Will grown ups like it? Well you may not love it, but it is not bad, and it will keep your kids entertained.
I give Monsters University 4 scary roars out of 5, or a 4 out of 5. Treat your kids to a great summer movie.