Pixar has been
in the middle of a minor slump, as far as making films go. For the
company's first decade or so, they made hardly a wrong move. Instead,
they piled up classic after classic, from Toy Story to
Finding Nemo to Cars to even quirkier fare like Ratatouille and Wall-E.
studio seems to have peaked in 2009-2010 with the near perfect double shot of
Up and Toy Story 3. Sadly, pretty much every
film they have released since has been a bit of a disappointment – only one
film was actively bad (Cars 2) but the others, like Brave and
Planes, have been pretty minor pleasures.
Add to that listing Monsters University.
It's certainly not a bad film. It's even marginally entertaining.
But in the past, Pixar movies were so much more than that.
Monsters University is a continuation of the studio's
sudden fascination with the sequel. Well, Monsters University
is actually a prequel. But between Toy Story in 1994 and Up
in 2009, Pixar released exactly one sequel (Toy Story 2). Since
Up came out, there have been three (Toy Story 3, Cars 2 and
Monsters University.) That is giving them the benefit of the doubt
that Planes is not a Cars sequel, even though it took place in
the Cars universe. Coming soon, Finding Dory, as well as
whispers about a possible Incredibles sequel and maybe even Toy
The truth of the matter is that Monsters Inc.
was no masterpiece in itself, making the idea of expanding its universe all
the more confounding. In fact, truth to be told, the most purely
entertaining Monsters Inc. spin off is the Monsters Inc.
Laugh Floor show at Disney World.
Still, Monsters Inc.
was spun off of a quite wonderfully fanciful idea. Those monsters
that show up in small kid's bedrooms at night... what if they were real?
Not only real, but normal 9 to 5 workers at a scare factory, mining
children's screams for power?
It's a clever, easy to
relate to premise. And if the original film sort of spun out of
control eventually (that scene with all the doors felt like a film that was
running out of ideas), the movie was mostly fun.
Did you ever really
wonder how these monsters got into the biz? I didn't think so.
But Pixar is gonna tell you anyway.
takes our two heroes back to scaring college: Mike Wazowski, the walking
green eyeball with the comic timing of a vaudeville act (voiced by Billy
Crystal) and James "Sully" Sullivan, the scaring legacy and BMOC (voiced by
One problem right off the
bat is that even in mere voiceovers, the 60-something Crystal and Goodman sound awfully old to be in college. But, okay,
Both of them dream of
someday being "scarers" at Monsters Inc. Sully has the look and the
talent, but not the work ethic or the study sense. Wazowski knows all
there is about scaring, but it doesn't change the fact that he's a goofy
looking green eyeball, not exactly scary.
The rest that follows is
a G-rated college film, which sort of sounds like a contradiction in terms.
No binge drinking or panty raids in Monsters U, but they still have the
Greek games, rush week and peer pressure. All with a vaguely
It's somewhat funny, and
as normal with Pixar, the animation is quite incredible. Perhaps it's
a tiny bit trivial, but it is mostly fun. If you liked Monsters
Inc., chances are good that the new film will tickle you. If you
found the first one nice enough but kind of unnecessary (as I did),
Monsters University just magnifies the faults of the first one.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2013 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: October 25, 2013.