Mike and Sulley, the two most lovable monsters from Monsters Inc once went to university and weren’t necessarily friends at first. So how did it all lead to their eventual friendship and place at Monsters Inc? It’s my review of Pixar’s Monsters University after the jump.
Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) that adorable yet skeptical one-eyed green monster has always wanted to be a scarer. Every time that he ever mentioned this as his aspiration, he was laughed at and ridiculed. The reality of it is, Mike is short, funny, very intelligent, but not scary. He knows all the other monsters laugh at him, but it doesn’t matter; he has drive and ambition, which many years later land him in Monsters University where his dreams are slowly coming true.
In one of his classes he meets James P Sullivan, or otherwise known as Sulley (John Goodman) a friendly, charming yet cocky monster whose reputation outweighs his intelligence. His father is known for being the scariest and most respectable monsters the university has ever had. However, Sulley’s cockiness and inability to study is threatening to tarnish the family name. He knows how to scare, incredibly well, it’s just not translating into smarts in the classroom.
Through a series of unfortunate events, Mike and Sulley are paired up and forced to join a fraternity where they’re competing for Scare games, a prestigious series of challenges and tournaments that prove just who the best and scariest monsters are. The problem is Mike and Sulley don’t get along, so how will they stand a chance? However, as they each learn their strengths and weaknesses, and are really tested as monsters, they form an alliance and a friendship which outlasts the ages .Can they win the Scare Games? Will Mike ever become a true scarer? And just how do they end up at Monsters Inc?
Monsters University is the latest entry into the impressive Pixar film cannon. One of the film’s greatest attributes is in the universality of its humour and themes. You don’t have to be a university student or be under the age of 12 to enjoy the film – it works for all ages and genders, and it’s message can be understood from anyone aged between 3 to 300 (these Monsters have large life spans). Some have said it’s basically Pixar’s variation on Revenge Of The Nerds. by formula, yes this is true, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It captures that sweet notion of rooting for the underdog, without it being predictable or crass. There’s a lot to admire here.
The performances, voiced by John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Nathan Fillion, Joel Murray, Aubrey Plaza and Charlie Day are all wonderful. You don’t recognise who the actor, is but only the character, which is exactly what an animated feature needs. If you recognise the actor, it proves distracting for the character you’re attempting to follow and understand. We don’t hear Goodman or Crystal, we hear Mike and Sulley, the monsters we fell in love with twelve years ago in Monsters Inc. These characters are unique and adventurous, even if the film surrounding them isn’t quite as inventive as they are.
Although it revels in clichés from time to time (the strict and nasty headmaster, the jock being the villain) Monsters University is just another example of how Pixar respect their audiences and characters alike, with delicate and multidimensional storytelling that can be adored by all. It’s no Monsters Inc, but then again what is? The heart’s still there, and it’s bigger than ever.
By Chris Elena
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writer(s): Robert L. Baird
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Aubrey Plaza,
Nathan Fillion and Joel Murray
Runtime: 110 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia & New Zealand: June 20, 2013; USA: June 21, 2013