Xbox video Monsters University
No, a prequel to Monsters, Inc. wasn’t exactly something anyone was crying out for. Not because Monsters, Inc. isn’t a great movie (it is), but because what mysterious backstory did we need filled in? Mike and Sulley are buddies and they work at Monsters, Inc. together. That’s enough, right?
So no, we didn’t need Monsters University. But the movie that was made? It’s a really fun, entertaining one.
Monsters University is Pixar’s take on a college movie, with Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) reintroduced as freshmen at MU, both with dreams of making it as a “scarer.” For Sulley, it’s what he was born into – his dad is a beloved, legendary figure in the scare world. For Mike, it’s been his passion since he was little, and he’s worked and studied as hard as he can.
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As it turns out though, Mike and Sulley don’t start out as friends – in fact, they kind of hate each other and Sulley, well, frankly, he’s a jerk. He’s a big guy with a huge roar and he finds scaring very easy and scoffs at and at points outright bullies the studious Mike. But circumstances soon find the two forced together as unhappy “brothers” in a much-mocked fraternity, Oozma Kappa (OK), that is taking part in MU’s annual Scare Games. I won’t get into the specifics of why both Mike and Sulley are both in OK, but suffice to say, their future is on the line and they are being watched closely by the very frightening and intimidating Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren).
The biggest obstacle Monsters University probably has to overcome with adult Pixar fans is that it is connected to Monsters, Inc. If it had been about completely new characters in a college setting, it likely would be more readily accepted as Pixar trying something new (it’s not like there are many animated college films after all, right?). But the connection to the first movie is tough because the first movie had a very special element this one does not and cannot have – Boo.
Her relationship with Sulley gave that film so much heart and weight. MU really doesn’t have a substitute for that, so no, it doesn’t tug on your heartstrings as much. It’s simply a humorous, well made, beautifully animated movie. On that last point, having recently re-watched Monsters, Inc., Pixar’s improvements in the last decade-plus are clear, as the visuals here are, per usual, terrific. When the freaky, dragon-like Dean Hardscrabble swoops down into the classroom, it's a striking visual, among many in the film.
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