‘Monsters University’ Review

Posted 7 years ago by Movies

Monsters University

I’ll get right to the point; Monsters University is a good Pixar film. It’s not a near perfect film, like Toy Story 3, but it is definitely a step up from both Cars 2 and Brave (both of which were enjoyable, but not quite up to Pixar snuff).

The movie tells the tale of Monsters Inc. stars Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal), and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman, in a role his voice was born to play), as they enter college and try to become the scarers that we all know and love from the first film. As is expected in a prequel, when Mike and Sulley first meet, they instantly despise each other, and later have to learn to work together to achieve a common goal (I don’t want to give too much away, for risk of spoiling anything). The film does a nice job introducing us to characters that we already know, but in a way that makes them seem almost like completely new characters (the best example of this is the villain from the 1st film, Randall Boggs, whom we meet in this film as a shy nerd, and we get to see grow into the character we know and love to hate.)

Monsters University thrives on its extensive cast of supporting players, ranging from wild man Art (voiced by Charlie Day) and the rest of the members of Oozma Kappa to Nathan Fillion’s stuck up jock Johnny (think of Stan Gable from Revenge of the Nerds). My personal favorite character was Don, a self described “mature student” who was recently downsized from his company, and has come back to school to “learn the computers”. Rounding out the cast is Dean Hardscrabble, voiced with frightening intensity by Helen Mirren, who acts as an adversary to our heroes.

Monsters University

The film drags a little bit during its first act, but that is mainly due to it having to set up a lot of exposition to make the rest of the film have the sense of gravity, which gives importance to the Scare Games that happen in acts 2, and 3. This said, the minute Mike and Sulley join the fraternity Oozema Kappa, the film changes from a prequel about characters we know and love, to a hilarious send up of “college movies” like Animal House, Old School, and Revenge of the Nerds (In fact one of the leaders of the MU Greek Council is a very subtle send up of Ogre from Revenge…). The film is at times both touching, and laugh out loud funny, which is to be expected from a Pixar film, however the emotional moments don’t hit as hard as they did in Up, or Toy Story 3.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this film is its music and score. Most of the music in the film has some brass element to it, which gives it the feeling of a collegiate marching band playing it in the background of the action on screen. This is specifically well done in a training montage done by both Mike and Sulley in the 2nd act. I was thankful that they didn’t fall into the montage trap of playing a pop song, which, to me at least, really pulls me out of the action (Think of the “learning to drive” montage from Wreck-It Ralph, a cringe worthy moment in an otherwise spectacular film).

Overall I believe Monsters University is a very well made film, which smartly expands on the Monsters Inc. universe, and tells a good story about being the best you can be, and finding a friend to help you reach your full potential. I give it 4 out of 5 Jay Shermans


P.S. Be sure to stay until after the credits to see the punchline of a joke that they actually set up during the trailer. It made a lame gag into one of my favorites in the film.

  • JoeS Pence

    I really liked the way it opened up the universe, it added so many characters, and layers to the world, I could absolutely see it becoming some sort of series

    • I thought that too! If Pixar ever considered doing a television show, I could see a Monsters Inc: The College Years show being a lot of fun.

  • SpaceMonkeyX

    Saw it this weekend with the wife and 5-year old. It was really fun for the most part. The only thing that was slightly disappointing to me – and this was purely my own fault for thinking this, I don’ t know that the trailers gave any indication that this would be the case – I was hoping that since it was a prequel it would also be a period piece. So I was expecting them to be attending college in the late-1980s/early-90s. I would have loved to have seen a Monsters universe interpretation of that era, with their version of the styles, the fads, hair metal, Nintendo, the introduction of Grunge, etc. Again, it didn’t ruin the movie for me, but I kept expecting there to be nods to our retro culture that never came (unless you want to count the Goth sorority, which would probably place the time period in the early ’00s). That being said, it was sort of timeless instead, as there were no cell phones, no digital cameras (in fact, they had an old Polaroid), no internet, nothing to indicate that it took place in a more modern setting, either.

    • I hadn’t even thought of that, but yeah that would have been cool. I think Monsters Inc. had a timeless quality too though, so this one seamed to mesh well with that.

      • SpaceMonkeyX

        Yeah, I didn’t have any problem with it once I realized I had assumed incorrectly about it being a period piece. It was just one of those little, “Man, wouldn’t it have been cool, if…” things.