Go Back To School & Enjoy Monsters University
Pixar sure knows how to make a fantastic film that kids and their parental escorts will both enjoy immensely. Released nearly 12 years after Monsters Inc. this film wisely takes the prequel rout by seeing where our two favorite monsters, Mike and Sully met and got their start in the scaring industry. You have to think about it this way, if you saw Monsters Inc. as a child in theaters, chances are, you're going to college or in college. If you were an adult when you saw Monster's Inc. in theaters, there is a good chance of your own that you have a kid now yourself. It is in those elements that Monsters University finds it's heart. I'm not a parent myself, but I am an uncle to three young nieces and there are several moments throughout this fun family adventure I got choked up and simultaneously excited when I thought about them going to their first day of school, learning about the world, and discovering who they are going to become.
Our story begins with the pint sized child version of Mike. He's an outcast at school and is left to hold the teacher's hand during a field trip to the scare floor at Monsters Inc. After being told to keep behind the safety line, the daring intrepid young Mike takes it upon himself to breach that barrier and go so far as to fallow a scarer into the Human World! It's during this adventure he finds his dream of becoming a professional scarer himself by going to Monsters University.
Flash forward a few years and it's registration day at the titular college and the bright starry eyed Mike has just gotten off the bus. He signs up for classes, gets his dorm assignment, meets his roommate and gets ready to fallow his dream. It is during a late night prank gone wrong that Mike comes to meet the creature who will become his best friend, Sully. Sully is a monster that has coasted into the Scare Program at college based on the legacy of his father. He gets easily noticed by teachers, and is inducted into the top fraternity without ever having to prove himself to anyone, least of all himself. Meanwhile Mike struggles to get noticed, so he sets about learning and practicing every scare strategy to become the best monster he can be.
After a spat between Mike and Sully gets them kicked out of the Scare Program, they find themselves inducted in the "loser" fraternity Oozma Kappa to compete in the annual Scare Games. If their frat overcomes the seemingly insurmountable odds, they will be let back in the program by the stiff lipped Dean Hardscrabble; a legend herself in the scare industry having set the all time scare record. Through the games Mike, Sully, and the rest of their ragtag gang of monsters learn the valuable lessons that no one monster is better than the other, they each have a unique set of skills, and together as a team they can beat the tough odds set against them. The life lessons of this movie may be subtle, but they resonate loud and clear.
College or any post highschool education facility is the place where you discover who you are. For the first time in your life you are set about to live your life as you see fit. You're given the opportunity to discover what you're really interested in by taking classes, meeting new people, and finding those friends that will be with you in some capacity for the rest of your life. Monsters University balances these themes amazingly well with a story that may not be as fresh and new as Monsters Inc. but is no less entertaining and meaningful. It's as if Pixar took the best parts of Animal House, Nerds, and The Paper Chase and rolled them all into one great kids movie. If I have a single grip, it's that the movie feels longer than it should, the front end is a tad heavy at times, but otherwise it's an easy flick to have fun with.
As always the voice cast of Billy Chrystal and John Goodman are amazing. But it's the new additions of Alfred Molina, Charlie Day, Peter Sohn, and Nathan Fillion among many others that bring something fun and new to the show. Special mention must be given to the always amazing Helen Mirren. Her voice work for Dean Hardscrabble is perfect. She seemingly found her inner Betty Davis to give the character a venomous threatening tone that gives her an authoritarian air you would never want to meet in real life.
What more can I say about Monsters University? It's a fantastic movie that kids and adults both will enjoy. As for 2D or 3D? I would encourage you to go see it in 3D. It's well worth the extra couple bucks.The world is so massive, the monsters' details so intricate the extra dimension helps heighten the fun and excitement particularly during the Scare Games sequences. Nothing quite like seeing a 50 foot librarian uncoil herself and tower over the contestants! Go see it in theaters, it's worth time and you should enjoy just about every moment of it!