Disney Pixar is the best combination since peanut butter and jelly. Disney revolutionized animated film and continues today as a marketing juggernaut. Pixar came along and took the animation world by storm, making other studios marvel at the stunning quality they delivered on screen. Together they have produced billions in revenue. That being said, Disney Pixar has stumbled a bit with the last couple of films not living up to audience and critic expectations. Regardless of what this review says, families will flock to this film and children will beg their parents to buy Monsters University merchandise. Does Monsters University measure up to Monsters, Inc., or does it fall short? Keep reading to find out.
This prequel to Monsters, Inc. begins with Mike Wazowski visiting the Monsters, Inc. facility as a child, on a grade school field trip. His experience at Monsters, Inc. changes his life forever and he decides that he will be a “scarer” when he grows up. Fast forward to freshman year of college and we find a college campus whose most prestigious program on campus is the scaring program. Only the best of the best will make it through this program. Mike and a host of other monsters are determined to get through this scaring program, but there is one big problem, Dean Hardscrabble. Dean Hardscrabble holds the record for the most scares and expects nothing less than excellence from this new class of potential future scarers.
Billy Crystal (Monsters, Inc., Parental Guidance) once again voices the lovable, green, one-eyed monster named Mike. Billy was the right choice the first time around and does just as well this time. Billy brings a strong sense of humor and a fighting underdog spirit to the tone in Mike’s dialogue. John Goodman (Monsters, Inc., Argo) plays the lovable, strong and confident Sullivan. John Goodman is also another good pick for this role as he brings a large presence and warmth to the character, which shines through onto the screen. Steve Buscemi (Monsters, Inc., Hotel Transylvania) once again plays Randy, the gecko/chameleon that is able to disappear or blend with his surroundings. Billy, John and Steve round out the three main characters, which are in Monsters, Inc. as well. A scary addition to the top billed cast is Helen Mirren (Hitchcock, The Debt) who plays Dean Hardscrabble. Helen was a perfect choice for this character. Her voice, presence and tone make this character quite believable.
Rather than rattle off a complete list of names and characters, suffice it to say the supporting actors in this film all did a fantastic job as well. Disney pulled in some big names as well as other voice actors you may not have heard of, but you have heard their voices in other Disney films. The sheer warmth and depth of the movie draws you into the story. The funny part about the movie, as an adult, is watching the college activities they convert into animated film. Disney Pixar took those moments and modified them into a kid appropriate version of the events and it is actually quite funny. Once you see the movie you will understand the reference.
Now let’s shift our focus to the animation itself. While most people will undoubtedly take it for granted, the animation is top notch. If you only knew what went into animating this film you would be amazed. It took dozens of people hundreds of hours to pull this film together. What you are able to sit and watch in roughly 90 minutes takes years of hard work. First of all, if you haven’t seen the movie already go see it right after you finish reading this review. Second, as you are watching the film look for details like Sullivan’s fur blowing in different directions. Look at the fluid and lifelike movements of each character. The render time, modeling and other aspects of the film are truly amazing. If you’ve ever done any video editing, you will appreciate the amount of time and effort put into this film.
Both live action and animated films each have their challenges. From start to finish a live action film can be accomplished in a few months. Whereas animated films usually take years to complete. Dan Scanlon (Cars, Mater and the Ghostlight) directed Monsters University and brought a lot of his industry experience with him to the table. Dan has worked in the art department, the animation department, as a writer and as a director on a number of animated films. Most people see a film director as someone who sits in a chair and yells, “action”. While this movie doesn’t have that element, it does have other complicated layers that take talent to coordinate and manage. Hats off to Dan for directing another solid Disney Pixar film which families will enjoy for generations to come.
Monsters University is another fine installment from Disney Pixar that is destined to be a classic. There’s something to be said for new characters that warm your heart. The second movie in a series is always more difficult, even if it’s a prequel. While Monsters University is a good movie, it doesn’t quite top the original. The original was fresh, new and entertaining. However, if you don’t compare Monsters University to Monsters, Inc. it could stand on its own as a great movie. Monsters University is quite enjoyable, loaded with laughs and a must see if you have children or even if you are just a big kid yourself. Go see the movie, then come back and talk about it. If you’ve already seen the movie let us know what you thought about it.