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Monsters University

2013 | 107 min | G | 1.85:1

Monsters University


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User reviews

5 user reviews

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 21 June, 2013
 12 July, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native)

Box office




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Screenshots from Monsters University Blu-ray

Monsters University Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 20, 2013

“Monsters University” is a prequel I’m positive most audiences will be celebrating. It’s Pixar on autopilot, returning to the playground of one of their biggest, most enduring hits, coasting on good faith as the story dials back about a decade to detail how scare professionals Mike Wazowski and Sulley first met (I guess one must simply ignore a line in 2001’s “Monsters, Inc.” that established the pair as elementary school chums). Loaded with gags and entertaining characterizations, “Monsters University” is a breezy time with old friends, smartly stepping away from the scare floor to take the monster carnival to college, opening a whole new world of possibilities for this colorful universe.

As a young child, Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) decided he wanted to tear up the competition at Monsters, Inc., dreaming of becoming their most successful fear-inducing employee. Now a freshman at Monsters University, Mike is ready to study his hardest, teaming with roommate Randall (Steve Buscemi) to take the campus by storm. However, the staff has their doubts about the little green ball, with Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) discounting Mike’s passion, urging him to quit the scare program. Also on the prowl for scare glory is Sulley (John Goodman), a legacy who’s having trouble living up to expectations. Dropped by fraternity Roar Omega Roar, Sulley and Mike decide to put their animosities aside and pledge Oozma Kappa, looking to redeem themselves at the annual Scare Games with a house of kindly but ordinary members, including middle-aged monster Don (Joel Murray) and pushover Squishy (Peter Sohn). Working to get the ghouls in shape, Mike develops a tough training schedule for the frat, still working toward a lofty goal of scaring success that Sulley worries he won’t be able to achieve on his own.

Pixar made a wise choice to prequelize “Monsters, Inc,” since I can’t imagine anyone managing to top the conclusion of the original feature, with its lovely parting shot of Sulley reuniting with human pal Boo. Goodness, what a perfect closer. “Monsters University” sheds all the pressure of expectations in the opening ten minutes of the movie, watching a young Mike on a field trip to the Monsters, Inc. scare floor, utterly fascinated with the process of door selection and bedroom interaction, soon partaking in a little otherworld adventure of his own to the horror of everyone in the building. Director Dan Scanlon (who co-scripts) sets an earnest tone of aspiration for the second film, observing the little guy commit himself to a goal of employment, ready to fill scare tanks with the best of ‘em. However, before employment can begin, an education is in order.

The Monsters University campus (often clashing with rival Fear Tech) provides a whole new realm of humor for the production to work with, imagining Mike as a nervous freshman inundated with social opportunities from numerous clubs, while powerful fraternities present the young man with a chance at instant popularity. Sulley is more of a slacker, content to work on his one roar and coast through college, never even bothering to bring a pencil to class. The picture doesn’t sweat the paring in the least, creating an opposites attract friendship where both monsters benefit from the other’s strengths, soon joining the pathetic Oozma Kappa fraternity to prove themselves scare floor material. During the school year, we watch instructors use simulators to test the students, observe idiosyncrasies with the diverse student body, and explore the educational divide between Mike and Sulley, with the screenplay making amusing use of collegiate cinema formula, backed by an outstanding percussive score by Randy Newman. Scanlon sets a promising tone from the get-go, always interested in jokes and pace, maintaining a comfortable balance of old faces and new foes.

As with all of Pixar’s pictures, there’s a screenwriting template in play, building the merriment to a point where it must crash, only to be revived once again for the grand finale. In “Monsters University,” the narrative trap door belongs to Mike, who harbors a dream that’s unreasonable, troubled by the reality that he’s just not scary enough. Clocking in at 105 minutes, stopping the flow of the feature only reinforces its artificial interests, though, to Scanlon’s credit, Mike’s arc as the brains of the duo is sensitively handled, building a secure bridge to the original movie.

While it makes a few unfortunate stops to micromanage a foregone conclusion, “Monsters University” is an easy lay-up for Pixar (a company becoming increasingly used to refusing challenges), providing the mandatory amount of laughs and charm, while keeping a few cameos handy to introduce a sense of surprise to the picture. Perhaps it was unnecessary to return to Mike and Sulley, but the reunion is a pleasant one and, most importantly, doesn’t tarnish the appeal of the original feature.

Starring: Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Frank Oz, John Ratzenberger, Joel Murray
Director: Dan Scanlon

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