Monsters University

monsters universityReleased: 2013
Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren

I liked it – but didn’t love it


It’s summer here in the UK, actual proper summer. There’s sun and everything. So how am I spending the hottest days in Britain in years? In beautifully air conditioned cinemas of course. I’m not a sun-seeker, I have very fair skin and once burned under a normal kitchen light. While everyone else is soaking up the sun I’m staying in doors. There are plenty of interesting films currently out and coming up over the next couple of weeks for me to enjoy. Over the next few weeks I want to see Pacific Rim, The World’s End, The Wolverine and The Heat. My main aim though is to make sure I get to see Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 before the local schools break up for the long summer holiday.

Various events meant that my first trip to the cinema in a while was to Pixar’s Monsters University, the long-awaited prequel to the 2001 classic Monsters Inc. The original film told the story of James B Sullivan (Sully) and Mike Wazowski, best friends and the best scaring team at Monsters Incorporated. Given the happy ending of the first instalment a direct sequel would have been difficult so Disney/Pixar went with a prequel – the story of Mike and Sully’s first meeting at the prestigious Monsters University and their rocky path to friendship.

I was immediately blown away by the quality of the animation. Of course it’s brilliant, you wouldn’t expect anything else of Pixar but the school bus, buildings and woodland area scenes stood out as particularly impressive. I found myself wondering if this was real-life footage which was spliced in to the animated action. Of course it wasn’t but the rendering was so brilliant that I was taken aback for a moment.

The story of Sully and Mike’s rivalry was quite good fun and there were plenty of laughs, as always there was enough to keep the adults happy. The voice cast was impeccable with John Goodman and Billy Crystal reprising their roles of Sully and Mike. The addition of Helen Mirren as the terrifying Dean Hardscrabble was inspired. As always John Ratzenberger appears but I’ll not spoil the surprise of when he turns up – I was listening out for it all film though.

I really enjoyed Monsters University, I liked it a lot but I didn’t love it. There was something missing, a little spark. It didn’t have the same heart as its predecessor, it very much missed the character who connected the monster world to the human one. I missed Boo, the little girl who brought the human element to Monsters Inc. Without her the Monsters universe was missing a real emotional punch. The cinema full of children (brilliantly behaved children) didn’t seem to miss Boo and appeared to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Despite my very slight misgivings it’s definitely worth going to see Monsters University in the cinema. Not only for the fun of the main feature but also for the short film The Blue Umbrella which is shown first. It’s seven minutes of animation perfection and the story of a blue umbrella romancing a red umbrella brought tears to my eyes and was worth the entrance price alone. Pixar remain masters of toying with our emotions, they just didn’t show it in the main feature this time.

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  1. Good review Louise. It isn’t such a bad watch, however, I loved the heck out of the original which makes sense why this didn’t do much for me.

    • Dan, I totally agree. I really liked Monsters University but I love Monsters Inc. Every time I watch it the scene with Mike saying goodbye to Boo makes me well up and this one just didn’t affect me quite so much.

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