In 2001, audiences young and old were treated to a visual and artistic masterpiece. That masterpiece of course was Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., one of the film studio’s greatest computer-animated achievements. Not only did it feature some of the most gorgeous animation work ever put on screen but it told a story that was heartwarming, hilarious and action-packed. Monsters University is a prequel do the 2001 animation juggernaut and the results are actually surprisingly somewhat mixed.
Michael “Mike” Wazowski (Billy Crystal) is a young monster who has big dreams of becoming a scarer at Monsters, Inc. He attempts to live out this dream by becoming a scare major at Monsters University. Along the way, he runs into and butts heads with superior scarer James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) and makes friends with Randall “Randy” Boggs (Steve Buscemi). All pleasantness aside, Mike is soon placed in a situation where he must compete in a series of “scare games” where he must test his skills to see how truly scary he is.
Monsters University is basically a college fraternity battle royale where students in the Scarer program must compete and show their worth. Mike and Sulley make friends and enemies along the way. Their team of underdogs, the Oozma Kappa frat goes head to head with the alpha monster frat Roar Omega Roar and the results are rather epic.
Monsters University is a charming film. It combines all the lovely trappings of a college comedy with the alternate world inhabited by monsters only Pixar can breathe life into. The story is a bit of a hodgepodge but young children won’t seem to be bothered by this messiness. Adults on the other hand may complain that the premise and plot get a little hectic with multiple storylines and conflicts littering the screen. Being a cartoon however, this isn’t a major issue.
Like most movies, Monsters University has its pros and cons. Thankfully, the pros outweigh the cons and audiences are in for a real treat. The animation is remarkable of course. Being a Pixar film and a prequel to the other visual masterpiece Monsters, Inc., Monsters University is really a work of art. The colors are so vibrant and the textures so lifelike that it’s almost impossible to take your eyes off the screen.
Comedic geniuses Billy Crystal and John Goodman return to the roles they made their own 12 years ago and the dialogue and wisecracks they share are nothing short of spectacular. The rest of the voice cast is also stellar with Steve Buscemi returning as well. Helen Mirren provides some creepiness as Dean Hardscrabble, head of the Scarer program. The rest of the well-rounded cast features Alfred Molina, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, John Krasinski, Bonnie Hunt, Bill Hader and Pixar fixture John Ratzenberger.
Kids will eat Monsters University right up. Like Monsters, Inc., it is absolutely adorable, funny and downright fun. The animation continually needs to be addressed because it is really that good. Pixar certainly knows what they’re doing and one can only hope that more Monsters installments will be released in the future. Like Toy Story, Monsters is a franchise that will hopefully generate more films and more adventures.
With this prequel and tons of merchandise surrounding its release, Disney and Pixar are making some serious profit. The past, present and future of Pixar is bright with even more money to be made. Once a year, the animation studio churns out its latest work of art and people all over the planet happily enjoy it. Monsters University continues this trend and while it may not be Pixar’s strongest film, it is definitely worthy of much praise.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for Monsters University are so good, it’s scary. There’s an animated short, an audio commentary, dozens of featurettes, deleted scenes, an art gallery and promo picks not to mention the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy formats of the film.