Thursday, July 18, 2013

Movie Review: Monsters University (Confirmed: Great and a 1/2)

Did Pixar pick the right property for their first prequel?

     Over the past couple of years, for better or worse Pixar, has not shied away from putting out it's share of sequels.  The better would be in the form of the two Toy Story sequels, while the worse is in the form of Pixar’s worst film by far Cars 2 (or as I refer to, it The Mater Movie). One thing Pixar has never tried, however, is a prequel,  so in pretty gutsy move Pixar decided to give the prequel treatment to one of their most beloved properties, the Monsters Inc. franchise.  So did Pixar’s prequel decision payoff? Find out after the break……
Welcome to Monsters University!

     The answer is a roaring yes.  There are countless examples in cinema of sequels surpassing their predecessor, but not many examples (if any at all) of prequels surpassing the original, which is exactly what Monsters University does.  This is all made possible by the choice of a brilliant premise from Pixar and Disney.  What drove Monsters, Inc. was the friendship between Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman), so why not explore how the two monsters became best buds?  Better yet, why not do it in a college setting?

Even Pixar characters partied in college!

     The college setting is what gives Monsters University its own unique feel and separates it from the original.  This works really well for this franchise because the kids that grew up watching the original are now college age and facing similar challenges to the ones Mike and Sulley face at Monsters U.  Pixar’s decision to embrace Monsters University as its definitive college film kept this film entertaining from start to finish.  The fact that so many college tropes are brilliantly covered in a G-rated Disney film is truly masterful and will bring a smile to anyone who has ever experienced college life, both inside and outside of the classroom.  

A glimpse at the college stereotypes with the superb voice acting behind them in Monsters University! 

      The larger collection of monsters on the college campus also opens up the door for many superb voice performances.  Voice performances that include: Charlie Day (Art), Aubrey Plaza (Claire Wheeler), Helen Mirren (Dean Hardscrabble), Alfred Molina (Professor Knight), Bill Hader (The Ref.), and John Krasinski (Frightening Frank McCay).   Even better, each voice actor’s particular character matches that actors personality nearly perfectly, resulting in superb voice casting on Pixar’s part.

      Overall, Monsters University is Pixar’s best second look at their characters after Toy Story 3.  Like all good Pixar films you will laugh and cry, this time as you are coming of age with Mike and Sulley.

Confirmed: Great and a 1/2

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