Movie Review: Monsters University

When I first heard the news that there would be another Monsters, Inc. movie, I was excited. Monsters, Inc. was the first movie had seen in a theater. It was just me and my dad on a lazy weekend afternoon. I believe we were the only people in attendance. This was back in the day when it was a battle from Shrek 1, LOTR 1, and Harry Potter 1 (has it been that long?). Anyways, I enjoyed that afternoon in that closed-since-2004 theater.

Fast-forward to now. I went with two other college buddies, both animation majors, to the theater. A few days before, I watched my VHS copy just as a refresher. The pre-previews were less than desirable. Sure, it’s the basic trivia game and local ads but there were two that made us scratch our heads. The first one was the Pull-ups tie-in for Monsters University. Sure, it’s a movie for all audiences but I draw the line at seeing a two-year-old crotch on the big screen, wearing the product of course. This was an uncomfortable sight. The second was the MLP: FiM movie were the ponies transform into humans by going through a magic portal and go to high school. So it goes. I have nothing against the show but the premise did seem a bit far-fetched. Who knows, maybe I’ll review it. The actual previews were not exactly targeted toward us (Smurfs 2, need I say more other than no?).

The short was decent. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a personal favorite but the amount of photorealism is amazing. It sets up how beautifully rendered the actual feature will be. This, along with some of the recent theatrical Pixar shorts, show that actions speak louder than words.

Now for the main course. What can I say? MU does a good job of bringing the story from the original to the prequel full circle. The references from MI help connect to MU and answers some questions. I had my doubts going in about how well the continuity would fit but it turns out that this doubting Thomas was wrong.

The idea that Randall is Mike’s roommate is hilarious. Presenting him as a timid monster with invisibility powers made him more likable, at least to me. How could such a nice monster turn so bad? It’s shown in the first climax but as a start that would lead to his behavior in MI.

The brothers of Oozma Kappa, honestly, I wasn’t sure I could care about. From the trailers, I knew that Mike and Sulley would have to join the loser group because there wouldn’t be the underdog story that would be present. Did I care for them by the end? Yes.

The villain is not who you think. Dean Hardscrabble, while displaying a fearsome demeanor, is only a secondary villain at most. Reality: that’s the bad guy. Those who have seen MU will know what I mean. The ending is much more realistic and refreshing because it shows that actions do have consequences. What had happened, if it were translated to the human world, is something that does happen in educational institutions: expulsion. Had Mike and Sulley been reinstated to the university after all that happened, I would feel cheated.

Is MU another success? Money says yes, but that doesn’t say it all. Story-wise, this works best for those my age, where we have at least one year of college under our belt. We laugh at how ridiculous some of the scenes are because we’ve been there. Those under the age group (even though it is an all ages film) will just need to wait until they have been there, done that to enjoy the humor. I know that when I show this to my kids in the future, it will be MI, MU, and then MI because that was how I saw it. MU was a good summer film but I can’t wait for what’s next (not Planes). The Good Dinosaur (look for a model on the floor during the final Scare Games round), Inside Out, the yet untitled movie about Day of the Dead, and Finding Dory (maybe) look promising as they, excluding the last one mentioned, will present three new non-sequeled films in an uninterrupted run. I cannot wait.

8/10

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