Monsters University, 2013, USA
Pixar has entered the realm of college comedy. But Monsters University is very much a family movie, and lacks the gross-out humour and obvious over-indulgence that the “typical” college comedy would have. And, while it’s not touching the way its predecessor, Monsters, Inc. is, it’s still very funny and memorable.
Mike (Billy Crystal) has wanted to be a scarer his entire life. He enrolls in Monsters University with lofty academic ambitions. He’s a good studier – but he’s just not scary. Sully (John Goodman) comes from a family of scarers and coasts on his family name and natural ability, but lacks the academic talent. Naturally, Mike and Sully don’t get along – at first. When they’re kicked out of the scare program, they join the Oozma Kappa fraternity and enter the Scare Games in the hopes of gaining admittance back into the program. Oozma Kappa is filled with misfit monsters, including Art (Charlie Day), Don Carlton (Joel Murray), Terri (Sean Hayes) and Terry (Dave Foley), who occupy the same body, and Squishy (Peter Sohn). Mike and Sully must train these monsters and beat the legendary Roar Omega Roar fraternity.
The film is charming and I loved seeing the beginning of Mike and Sully’s friendship. I had my doubts about a college comedy working as a family film but it really worked well. It was a hilarious coming-of-age story. It’s not especially inventive, unfortunately, but that didn’t really bother me. It’s better than most films being released nowadays, and it wasn’t rife with obvious pop culture references the way many family films are. There is a single sly pop culture reference to “Gangnam Style”, but it was cleverly snuck in and it will be completely unnoticeable once that pop culture sensation fades away entirely. There was another cleverly disguised pop culture reference uttered by Mike – but I’m not spoiling it!
My one complaint is that there were a few too many characters. It would have been nice to learn more about the Oozma Kappa monsters, who, in many instances, seemed more like vehicles to deliver jokes and punch lines. It’s a shame, because all of them were legitimately interesting characters (especially Art, who was particularly odd and funny – he has the best line in the entire film!).
The animation in the film was vibrant and I actually really liked the 3D. Pixar generally leads the pack when it comes to quality 3D. It’s definitely not necessary to see it in 3D, but I didn’t feel like the extra few dollars were a waste in this case.
Monsters University was a lot of fun and another quality Pixar film. See it in theatres!
The Blue Umbrella
The Blue Umbrella is the short film that played before Monsters University. I have to say that I was completely blown away by the animation in this short. It uses a photorealistic style of animation, and I honestly thought it was live-action at first. Then I thought it was live-action blended with CGI elements. But then I realized that it was just beautiful, realistic computer animation. It was fantastic – and the story was very sweet, as well. It was very reminiscent of Paperman, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Short last year. I will be astounded if The Blue Umbrella doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Animated Short next year.