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See where Mike and Sulley they learned to be the scaring team and the monstrous duo.

Monsters University is a prequel to the beloved Monsters, Inc. It had the potential to be a mistake for PIXAR, since creating successful prequels is a challenge not many studios take on. While it seemed challenging, PIXAR stepped up to the plate and made another good movie. Monsters University follows Mike Wazowski to college where he wants to learn to scare for Monsters Incorporated. In the scaring program, he meets James Sullivan who seems like an over confident jock of a monster. Through happenstance, the two of them are paired together in the Scaring Games with a fraternity of some real goofball monsters. They have to win the contest to make sure they stay in the scaring program at Monsters University.

 
The entire movie is about teamwork and not judging a book by its cover. While both Mike and Sulley have the same character traits as the first film, they also have to learn to get along with each other and a bunch of other monsters, too. The movie is somewhat reminiscent of the Revenge of the Nerds movies: the premises are similar in that there are fraternities in competition with each other for a prize. This goes so far that a few of the characters seem to come directly from Revenge of the Nerds and Animal House. The comedy in Monsters University is really what makes it worth watching as the gags are incredibly funny and creative. PIXAR continues to pull it out of the bag with creativity: the houses are named cleverly, the competitions are hilariously challenging, and the characters take this movie to a whole new level. PIXAR did face some hurdles on this film, though. Because Monsters University is a prequel, the world, the look of everything, and even subtleties like types of monsters could not change too much. They were able to accomplish that by making sure they referenced Monsters, Inc. for designs and types of monsters. They did create more monsters in this film which makes it seem as though, in the monster world, any shape, color, and size are possible, giving a playfulness to the film.


The plethora of types of monsters sends a good message to those who are watching. Most monsters do not judge each other based on color, shape, size, or type, so it displays a message of unity despite differences. The only prejudice that really exists in the film is that most monsters think Mike is not scary because he is small, friendly, funny, and does not look frightening. The film is filled with things like this as each character has to learn to work with their own odd talents and be able to work as a team with the other monsters of the house. The different of types of monsters is only part of the diverse mixture of this film. The voice cast is an unbelievable addition as well. There are so many talented actors lending their voices to the characters of this film that it is hard to believe PIXAR got so many people. Of course, Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their roles along with Steve Buscemi and John Ratzenberger. Helen Mirren makes an intimidating dean of the scaring school while Alfred Molina is the lovable and tough scaring teacher. Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, and Aubrey Plaza all make appearances as monsters in Monsters University. This cast of comedic actors brings an extra level of funny to all the jokes the film has to offer, making it top notch. Since the film was primarily visual and fueled by running gags, the plot did not need to be deep in any manner which turned out fine, especially with it being a prequel. Since the monster world was already laid out in Monsters, Inc, the writers and animators could focus on things like physical gags and non-plot driven scenarios.

 
Besides the fantastic jokes, there ends up being some familiar things in Monsters University. At one point, the fraternity Oozma Kappa, which Mike and Sulley are in, has to break in to Monsters, Inc. This brings the viewer to a familiar setting, since the scare floor and the rest of the factory are shown in bits and pieces and were also shown at the start of the film, too. The concept of the doors, scaring children, and using screams for energy is also from the first film and somewhat of a focal point for Mike’s character. PIXAR did manage to up their game just a bit on this movie without anyone really noticing. They had a program of global illumination that creates a more natural way of lighting scenes in computer animation than they had in any previous film. In other PIXAR, and even non-PIXAR, computer animated films the animators always had to go into their programs and create direct light sources and reflections. But this global illumination eliminated that and streamlined some of the work. This also explains why it seems as though the colors for Monsters University are more vibrant than Monsters, Inc. PIXAR also continues to throw some Easter eggs in there, so be on the lookout for them, including one that is a nod to one of John Ratzenberger’s other roles. Altogether it is great to see where Mike and Sulley’s dynamic began and is a quite humorous movie.

 

Directed By: Dan Scanlon

Written By: Dan Scanlon, Daniel Gerson, and Robert L. Baird

Produced By:  Kori Rae

Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren

Distributed By: Disney/PIXAR

Release Date: June 21, 2013

Run Time: 104 minutes

Rating: G

 

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