Monsters University 3-D: Oozma Kappa for Life!
Prequels and sequels are tricky things. There are quite a few that I refuse to watch because I think they will actually diminish my enjoyment of the original film. However, more often than not, I give in and just hope that the new movie is at least half as good as the original. I enjoyed Monsters University every bit as much as I enjoyed Monsters, Inc., and that’s saying something.
Monsters University is Pixar’s first prequel, and it focuses on Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully’s (John Goodman) first year at college. The boys start off as enemies, but become friends with a group of outcasts and, finally, each other as they try to show their potential as scarers in the university’s illustrious scaring program. Though the familiar plot device of competing fraternities and sororities is used, the originality of the games, and the fact that it’s monsters competing, makes it feel fresh and new.
The vocal performances are fantastic! Crystal and Goodman have distinct voices and are easy to pick out, but they become Mike and Sully in a heartbeat. Steve Buscemi lends his voice as the nefarious Randall, who begins the movie as Mike’s roommate. Aside from two very funny cameos that I won’t spoil for you, the other voice actors are new to the franchise but most likely not new to you. A-list talents such as Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, and Bonnie Hunt give performances that make you appreciate their new characters, instead of missing the old. Newer stars like Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Day, and John Krasinski also give voices to new characters to love. There are too many more actors and characters whose performances will impress you than I can list.
As usual, Pixar delivers the goods visually. I am more than a little glad that I chose to see it in 3‑D. It was delightful! And it isn’t just the monsters that look great: they’ve given life to the scenery, too. The Monsters University campus feels like a real campus, which is at least partly a result of the animators modeling it after UC Berkeley’s campus, which is located near the Pixar HQ. This is the first time I’ve really noticed and complimented the architecture in an animated film.
Monsters University is rated PG for a good reason. It’s scary. The fangs and the scary faces are intimidating enough, but the scaring of children is just plain upsetting. With that in mind, I still highly recommend this as a family film. The life lessons are touching and heartfelt, and the college experience and humor are handled incredibly well. The movie is funny to adults and children in its own right. They don’t use tongue-in-cheek adult humor that may lead to uncomfortable questions from your seven year old afterward. I give Monsters University a 10/10.