SPOILER ALERT: There may be spoilers below.
Pixar does a lot of things right. I even love Cars 2. That is really saying something.
So in 2005 when word came that Circle 7 Animation would be making a Monster’s Inc 2 I was less than thrilled. Before Disney purchased Pixar, they had the rights to all the Pixar sequels, and it didn’t seem that Pixar would be able to be involved. Later in 2005 when Pixar was purchased by Disney, things began to look a little brighter.
It wasn’t until 2010 when we got confirmation that Pixar would produce a sequel. After a number of release dates and date changes, it was revealed that the 14th Pixar Feature would be a prequel to Monster’s Inc. This is where I got concerned.
Monster’s Inc did a lot of things right in terms of kids movies. I thought that a sequel would make a ton of sense. A prequel? I didn’t see it as being possible, let alone having a chance to be good. With Pixar I expect good, but I demand great. Cars 2 was good, but missed on great. Brave was good, and close to great. We got the title in May, 2011. Monster’s University. Not what I was expecting.
After all the hoopla and change, and all my worry, I caught a screening of Monster’s University this weekend (opening weekend). What follows is part review, part commentary, but the point that needs to be made is this. If you were like me, and doubting that Monster’s U could be something special, you are very wrong.
Let me be clear about a couple things. This movie isn’t perfect. The plot isn’t totally original. I fully believe that they could change the title of this movie to Monster’s Inc 2: The Goblet of Fire and still have a very honest title, as the plot to this flick tends to mirror the plot and flow of Goblet of Fire quite a bit. Cedric doesn’t die. Also, the short, The Blue Umbrella, sets the bar very high.
As far as voice cast goes, this movie shines. Take a look at some of these names. Obviously you have Billy Crystal and John Goodman, plus Steve Buscemi from the original. New to this flick are a who’s who of current faves: Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Day, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, Beth Behrs. Plus Helen Mirren, Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, and of course, John Ratzenberger. From an animation standpoint we have a gem of a Pixar film. Lights and darks, color, shine, glow, brilliant effects, and amazing looking characters. It is all wonderful.
The characters are all very well done. The numerous frats and sororities that appear, as well as their members, especially those in the OK frat that Mike becomes a member of. Amazing monster designs, ranging from horror movie scary to Sesame Street cute. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll be familiar with the metal-loving mini-van driving mom character, who is a great example of the range they pull off.
I badly wanted to doubt the flick and not give it a chance right away, but early in the movie it becomes clear that you are going to love it. They pull at your heart with an adorable young Mike Wazowski, braces and all. They give you a little scar in the dark of a human campground, only to have you fall witness to the birth of Mike and Sully’s friendship. Add in a score that is flavored by instruments that would sound perfectly at home in a college marching band and you are along for the ride.
You’re going to love this flick. It is a quick watch, and keeps your interested. Plenty of adult humor as you would expect from a flick that takes place on a college campus. For 8 years we have been teased with the idea of sequel to a movie that worked very well on its own. It was completely surprising that they were able to pull off something quite as good as this.
I badly wanted to not like it. I was very wrong.
One final thought on the movie. It has an interesting message. If you don’t go to college, you can still be wildly successful at what you do. Interesting message from a group of writers and animators working for Disney and Pixar. Great ending.