Review - Monsters University

Monsters University (2013), G, 104 minutes - Monsters, Inc. continues to be one of my favorite Disney/Pixar films, right up there with The Incredibles, and Toy Story 3.  So revisiting the Monsters world was something that I was looking forward to.  Instead of making a sequel as they did with the Toy Story and Cars franchises, Disney/Pixar decided instead to turn back the clock and show us how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) came to work at Monsters, Inc.

The film begins with an elementary school-aged, outcast of a monster (Mike) participating in a class field trip to Monsters, Inc. to see learn how the power for the monsters world is generated (by harvesting the scream energy created by scaring children in the human world).  He is completely blown away by the experience and decides then and there that he wants to be a scarer when he grows up.  Cut to a few years later as Mike steps off the bus and onto the campus of Monsters University for the first time.  Mike is the equivalent of the nerdy kid with book smarts.  He understands and has an amazing recollection of scarer theory, but he's not all that intimidating.  Sully on the other hand comes from a long line of well known scarers.  Think stereotypical jock who doesn't have to work hard because it all comes naturally to him.  A bit of a rivalry between the two begins that results in their being kicked out of the scaring program.  Mike is able to strike a deal with Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) that will allow he and Sully back into the program, but they will have to work together along with a band of misfit monsters and win the annual scare-off between the Monsters U fraternities and sororities to do so.

Visually, Monsters University is just as stunning as it's predecessor was twelve years ago.  Which is no small feat considering the advancements that have been made over the years.  The detail on the monsters is amazing and the scenery is picture perfect, often times appearing as if the monsters where digitally animated and dropped into a real life college campus environment.  Shifting backwards in time to make a prequel as opposed to a sequel could have been risky, but I felt that it really worked for this film.  There were plenty of nods to Monsters, Inc to make it feel properly connected, but at the same time is not over-reliant to the point that it couldn't stand on its own.  If you've seen Monsters, Inc. you'll appreciate little things like Mike's college roommate being Randy (Steve Buscemi), the villain of the original film.

In my opinion, Disney/Pixar turned in another winner with Monsters University.  They told an engaging story that fit into the previously built universe that didn't just fit, but added depth as well.  I don't think that Monsters University is quite as endearing as Monsters, Inc. was, but that's ok.  It is well worth a look, no matter your age


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