It’s been a dozen years since Mike and Sully scared up some big laughs in Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” The 2001 film was so successful that a sequel seemed logical, but it was delayed while writers tried to find the scariest/funniest way to get the pair back on the big screen.
Their solution is Monsters University, a story that takes the pair back to where they met – in college. This prequel approach is sweet, colourful and generally funny, but it lacks the emotional tug of the original film. It was far more fun, touching and interesting to watch Mike and Sully trying to keep baby Boo from harm than it is to watch them find their place on campus.
That’s not to say that Monsters University doesn’t have it’s strengths. Billy Crystal and John Goodman continue to bring a real sense of kinship with their voice work and their love of the characters comes through on screen. The heart of the film is the rivalry between Mike and Scully that gradually turns to friendship and the storyline is rich, warm and big hearted, as is so often the case in Pixar films.
The story sees eager little Mike Wazowski and the gruffly, likable giant Sulley meet as incoming freshman in the Scare section of the titular M.U. and immediately rub one another the wrong way, Mike is the quiet & academic geek who depends on book learning to graduate and Sully the big, frightening jock from a famous family who thinks he’s a shoo-in without studying. After both manage to alienate the stern Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) their only hope of remaining on campus is to win a Scare Contest. Queue the introduction of a bunch of misfits frat team, Oozma Kappa, who quickly become their “brothers.”
The film explodes with monsters, the campus loaded with hundreds of wonderfully bizarre and colourful creatures, all very different. The animation this time around has a richer and deeper tone. Monsters University is loaded with enough action and animated fun that it will keep young viewers amused.