Monsters University

Logline

The ambitious Mike Wazowski and ego-empowered Sulley are the unlikely monster duo competing for a coveted Scaring degree in this prequel to Monsters, Inc.

Why we went

In this atheist’s mind, the entity most closely approaching God is Pixar. That said, we enjoyed the first movie and the creative team seem like upstanding gentlemen, so…why not?

Why it worked

This decade hasn’t been kind to Pixar devotees. Let’s review: Last year’s Brave borrowed pretty unapologetically from the book of Mermaids; Cars 2 was unnecessary; and Toy Story 3, while strong, was a bit too familiar. With a collective sigh, we’ve wondered: What’s happened to the innovative storytelling that made Pixar a household name?

I didn’t exactly have a lot of hope for this latest installment either. There’s no doubt that Monsters, Inc., one of the studio’s earliest and most beloved efforts, had a great concept, but its success seemed attributable to its inherent cuteness above all else. So why a prequel? And why now, 12 years later?

Let’s think about this: With the Toy Story series, Pixar created a time frame in which toy-owner Andy literally grew with his audience.  Consider the 6-year-olds of yesteryear, identifying with the little girl in Mike and Sulley’s care. Higher education is now central to their worldview.

The particularly motivated will find quietly heroic qualities in Mike Wazowski. It sounds silly, but I was NOT expecting a movie that would complicate the series’ central characters the way Monsters University did. I mean sure, it had obligatory college humor, but Mike’s hardship really validated the story. His ambition was to be something so far from who he is, and he really fights hard for it. The writers helped – commendably – by not making it easy for little one-eye. It also became clear why the tumultuous friendship between Mike and Sulley happened in the first place. Like all Pixar greats, the takeaway sentiment was simple and timeless: No one can grow alone. With this particular brand of animation, we haven’t had to.

And not for nothing: in a theater packed with littles, it wasn’t until the last 5 minutes that they started to get unruly. So it had its reach and hold, pleasing audiences young and old (see: AJ).

Bottom Line

Both lead characters were dimensional and relatable, the gags were consistent and the story was charming.

PS. Keep you eyes peeled for the ever elusive Pizza Planet truck.

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