It was 12 years ago that we first met Mike Wazowski and Sulley in what is now the 5th highest grossing Pixar film of all time, Monsters, Inc. – reviewed in Episode 49 of the Disney Film Project Podcast. In it we get introduced to these friendly monsters that are in a lot of ways just like us. Only, with the exception that they’re monsters, living in a city populated by monsters, in world of monsters, all of whom were brought up to think that humans and especially children are toxic. This Top Scarer team quickly learns that the world around them isn’t quite what it appears to be, and the quickly watch the house of cards tumble around them.
Now, on June 21st we get to learn how they met, in the long awaited… not sequel, but rather prequel, Monsters University. Abandoning the idea that they met way back in the 4th grade as implied by a line in the original movie, but explained away by director Dan Scanlon, Pixar chose to go with the characters meeting in college. Twelve years is a long time, and it would never work for live actors because they don’t age in reverse, but fortunately these characters have all been sitting on computers at Pixar waiting all this time to once more stretch their legs.
The principal voice actors Billy Crystal and John Goodman return as Mike and Sulley. And along with them come a new cast of characters played by a wide array of voice and acting talents: Helen Mirren, Dave Foley, Alfred Molina, and Nathan Fillion among them. Together they help to bring to life a movie that reflects a much different world than that of the energy crisis ridden city of Monstropolis.
What we instead get is the journey of two younger monsters both learning to survive in the world around them. One trying to live his dream, and the other trying to live up to his family’s expectations. Two monsters who couldn’t be more different, on a journey to become the great friends we know them to be from Monsters, Inc. And the most important aspect of the original movie is carried forward into this one: heart.
The view of college life in the movie does fall into the typical movie trope that everything that matters in college is decided and defined by fraternities and sororities. But that hardly detracts from the points the movie is trying to make – it’s just the easier and more familiar path to take when making a college movie. With all that said the portrayal of “the greek life” is minimal, and at times mocking. The classroom scenes range from being reminiscent of both Harry Potter and Sky High.
Overall, I really think fans of the original won’t be disappointed with Monsters University. It’s not nearly as new and fresh as Monsters, Inc. was when it came out, nor is it as good. But it is a solid movie that makes it’s points, teaches us some lessons, tells us what we want to know going in, and even answers some questions we’d maybe been wondering along the way. It was both fun and funny to watch, and I look forward to seeing it again this weekend.
In addition to doing the web designer and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast. You can join him and his fellow hosts for a Live Review of Monsters University on Thursday, June 27, 2013.Follow us for more updates: