I have higher standards for Pixar than I do for perhaps any other studio. It’s their own fault; besides Brave (2012) and Cars (2006) (which I haven’t seen in full), every movie they have made has been amazing. So I had high expectations for Monsters University (2013). The thing that made me the most worried is the fact that Monsters, Inc is probably my favorite of the Disney/Pixar films. Either that or The Incredibles (2004), I can never decide which one.
Pixar does not disappoint. Once again they create a film with complex characters that you can’t help but root for, beautiful animation, and a story with many nods to the studio’s past. I think the thing that made this film so good to me was that it is so close to my real life. Having just graduated from college, I found myself laughing harder and even getting a little teary eyed at the depiction of campus life in the film (especially the R.A…guilty as charged). I think Pixar is doing what it does best-playing to their audience. Sure, their audience is small children and their parents, but this film is mostly for the 20-somethings of my generation.
When Monsters University came out in the fall of 2001 I was 10 years old. I grew up quoting Randall’s winds of change speech and at that age I didn’t know (or appreciate) that he was played by Steve Buscemi. Roz was probably my favorite character and I wished I could be Boo.
Monsters University was perfect because it was about something I had recently experienced, with characters familiar as old friends. It was like going home again. I can’t even tell you how hard I laughed at the nods to the first film (*Mini spoilers*) like Roz, the Abominable Snowman, Mr. Waternoose (with an afro!), and “23-19.” The poster behind Randy’s bed was my absolute favorite nod, if you missed it, I’m sorry. (*End of mini spoilers*)
In Monsters University we get to find out how it all happened. We see more character development with this animated film than with most films featuring Jason Statham (even if I do love him). You never wonder why Randall is the bad guy in Monsters Inc because he just is. Here we get an explanation. We get to find out how Mike and Sulley became friends and how the end up working for Monsters Incorporated. Many would argue that we don’t need to know any of these things; that the first film was perfect without these extra details. While that is true, nothing is lost by having these background details, if anything they enhance the viewing experience and the vividness of the monster world.
A lot of reviews I have seen also complain that this prequel doesn’t quite match up to the magic of the first. I agree in some aspects. The ending of Monsters Inc makes me extremely emotional and since then I have been hoping to see not a prequel, but a sequel featuring a reunion between Boo and her “Kitty.” However, I liked Monsters University because it was about over coming adversity, following your dreams, finding new dreams, and making it on your own (with a little help from your friends)- all of the things I have been experiencing post-grad. Like I said before, this movie just came out at the right time for me. I really liked the ending because it felt right. And I really loved the montage at the end (Fun fact: I’m a sucker for a good montage.)
Overall, I want to take everyone I know with me to see this film because it is definitely one of those feel good, laugh out loud, bring all your friends along films.