Friday, August 2, 2013

Theater Review: Monsters University

For the first time that I can remember, I was actually late to a film. I read the times wrong and I showed up for the wrong showing. Luckily, I don't believe we missed much - but still, I definitely hate missing anything. Heck, I don't even like missing previews.

Anyway, onto the film.

Monsters University is the Pixar release of the year. It's sort of been a rough going for Pixar the past few years since the amazing Toy Story 3.

In 2011, they released Cars 2 which I can totally understand why. A lot of critics and adults seem to hate the Cars films, but kids love them. It's probably the most kid-centric of the Pixar films. My son loves them both and I have seen it a ton of times - I don't hate them. In fact, I still enjoy them. But, it isn't the best of the Pixar bunch.

Last year they released Brave, which was a pretty decent, fun film. But, even it wasn't quite up to the standards that we have come to expect from Pixar. It did win the Oscar, but I don't think it deserved it. Disney's own Wreck-It Ralph was a much better film than Brave, in my opinion.

So, we head back in time. Literally.

We return to the world of monsters that we loved in Monters, Inc. and our fiends Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman).

But, we already know their story at Monsters, Inc. - so we are brought back in time for this prequel, to the time that Mike and Sully meet at Monsters University.

Mike is the quintessential over-achiever - and he has to be. He is going to try and become a scarer - and quite frankly he isn't scary. So, he studies and studies to get good grades and try to stand out.

Sully, meanwhile, is a legacy. And, he doesn't study at all - he parties and plays tricks on people, the perfect frat boy.

At first, of course, Mike and Sully despise each other. And, during a test, they are cornered by Dean Abigail Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) to pass the test, and both fail and are kicked out of the scaring program.

Heartbroken, Mike makes a deal with the Dean - if he wins the annual Scare Games he can get back into the scare program. Unfortunately, he must be in a Fraternity - and must have at least six members. So, he has to do it with Oozma Kappa - a Fraternity of castoffs - Don Carlton (Joel Murray), Squishy Squibbles (Peter Sohn), Art (Charlie Day) and Terry/Teri Perry (Dave Foley/Sean Hayes).

He also has another issue, including himself Oozma Kappa only has five members - as Terry/Terri only count as one. That is until Sully himself gets wind of the deal and looks to join - against Mike's wishes, he must allow his enemy in so that he can fulfill his dreams.

A pretty fun and decent origins story of Sully and Mike's current relationship that we see in Monsters, Inc. I feel it was better than the Cars sequel and even Brave - but doesn't live up to the Toy Story sequels, and probably not even the original Monsters, Inc.

It was cool to see some of the other monsters that we see in the original in the background throughout the film. And, we get the return of Randall (Steve Buscemi), who apparently started out as Mike's roommate, and not such a bad guy.

The new characters, other than the Oozma Kappa gang, really didn't stand out. I loved Oozma Kappa though. Art was hilarious and the other members each bring something fun to the table.

The film is still carried by Mike and Sully, however, and Goodman and Crystal work so well together, which is why this film works again. And, you get to see how the two are such a good team in the future, as together they work much better than when they are apart.


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