Monsters University Review
by Robert Hass
You've seen its premise before, and it doesn't quite reach the strong emotional depth of other Pixar outings, but regardless, Monsters University is a fun, beautifully animated, frequently hilarious, and overall charming family film that will be sure to leave a smile on your face. Definitely see it.
The story: This collage-based prequel takes place before the 2001 original hit Monsters Inc., about two monsters living in an alternate creature-filled world where they work in a scare factory aimed at transporting through kid's closet doors over the world and making them scream time and time again. Not as violent as it sounds. In the original they accidentally bring back a kid through one of the closets and begin to befriend her. This leads to some consequences though, and after being banished, they had to find their way back to the monster world, and reluctantly return the kid to her world as well. Monsters U takes place before that adventure and shows the history of how our one eyed and furry harried protagonists became buds. Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) a small but smart, green, one-eyed, and short legged creature who always has wanted to be the best "scarer" in the world. Only problem is that he isn't scary. At all. He finally is accepted to Monsters University to test his abilities and determine his true destiny. During his school year he runs into and begins a rivalry with a gigantic and fluffy monster named James Sullivan (John Goodman) who's got the scary build, but not the brains. After both have to deal with forms of rejection, they decide to band together, work with new friends, face the odds, and finally prove themselves to the rest of the college. It's probably the tamest college comedy you've seen, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its laughs.
The good: To start, Monsters University looks fantastic. The visuals and animation is bright, vividly detailed, and is simply a joy to ogle over. The characters are fantastically original and unique, and its great to see Mike and Sully back on the big screen together, especially and interestingly in their earlier forms. The scripts premise may not be new, but the screenplay is very clever, funny, and adds a nice concluding section to the film which I wasn't expecting. Back to the humor, there were many chuckle-worthy moments throughout the movie, be it zany sight gags from its multiple appended characters or witty line of dialogue, but there also were some big laughs, including one gag which has me laughing out loud for a while. The humor wasn't as edgy as some other children's fair, but many jokes were unexpectedly and "nudged" the envelope just the right amount. There also were many funny references and in-jokes to the first which will make any previous viewer smirk. The voice acting is great and really fit the characters body movements and idiosyncrasies to a tee. The pacing of the story is fantastic, be it montages, or exciting set pieces, it really fit together well. The score was also nice, and did the perfect job to fit the films tone and sequences. Again, if it didn't reach fully satisfying emotional highs, it still reached, and partially worked, instead being warm and touching. It also had a solid message that wasn't pounded in, but still was mentioned just enough. Really, thanks to the originality of the goofy and root-able characters plus a crafty screenplay and fluid storytelling, I found myself smiling quite a bit. I also want to commend the conclusion again for not taking the easy way out and trying something different instead.
The bad: The only real flaw of the film is that the story has been done before a few times, and that I wish it dug a little deeper with the emotional elements, but still I am happy with the way it is.
My take: After the two recent disappointments from the prolific and incredible Pixar team, it was time for a comeback, and I can safely say that Monsters University is a significant step in the right direction and prefect family entertainment. I was very glad that I saw it and felt satisfied walking out of the theater in an otherwise disappointing year for films.
V/H/S 2 (rental and in theaters)
White House Down
Redemption (rental and in theaters)
World War Z
Man of Steel
Fast and Furious 6
The Great Gatsby
Iron Man 3
Dead Man Down
Europa Report (rental and in theaters 8/2)
Redemption (On rental and in theaters)
GI: Joe Retaliation (available 7/30)
V/H/S 2 (rental and in theaters)
Oz: The Great and Powerful
The Last Stand
The goal for this blog is for me to deliver more direct movie summaries that skip more of the fluff and deliver the goods. The story, the good, the bad, and my overall take on it. For those of you who just want to know if you should see it or not, read the ratings and headlines of the films. Click read more if you want to see the details about the reviews.
My name is Robert, but friends call me Vern. I'm a proud cinefile (not as creepy as it sounds...) I write, direct and edit movies. When I'm not doing that, I'm watching movies -- as many as I can -- and reviewing them here for you. I've found that my tastes are unpredictable; conventional to bizarre, formulaic to abstract, old-school to ahead of the curve. I've seen enough to have perspective but am still young enough to need a lift to the theater. Let me know what you think.