Review: Monsters University
PLOT: Ten years before MONSTERS INC., Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are freshmen at Monsters University, enrolled in the ďscareĒ program. After they flunk out, their only hope of readmission is to win the university ďScare GamesĒ for which theyíre paired up with the geekiest fraternity on campus, Oozma Kappa.
REVIEW: Could it be that Pixar has peaked? After an incredible run of movies that included THE INCREDIBLES, RATATOUILLE, UP, WALL-E (their masterpiece) and TOY STORY 3, the studio has seemingly lost its magic. BRAVE was pretty good, but CARS 2 was loud and obnoxious. While MONSTERS UNIVERSITY certainly isnít Pixarís nadir, itís shockingly mediocre, as itís little more than an eighties college comedy, albeit G-rated, animated, and populated by monsters.
The main conflict in MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is that Mike, while a smart, creative A-student, just isnít scary. I dunno- to me a giant green eyeball is a lot scarier than the other cuddly monsters like Sulley with his purple polka-dots. In order to graduate, Mike has to figure out a way to be scary, even though kids improbably find him cute. Somewhere in here thereís a message hidden for kids about how they should recognize their limitations and understand that all dreams donít necessarily come true, although often hard work can make up for talent. Of course, being that weíve all seen MONSTERS INC., itís pretty obvious that Mike and Sulleyís dreams of frightening children by becoming ďscarersĒ come true.
The message is all well and good (although I donít think kids should ever aspire to mediocrity- just sayiní) but the problem with MONSTERS UNIVERISTY is that itís just not funny. While the animation is up to Pixarís usual standards, did MONSTERS INC., really need a follow-up? Even worse, they made it a ďcampus comedyĒ which is a genre that was tired twenty years ago, and hasnít gotten any fresher. Heck, they even put the guys in a geeky frat, and pit them against letter-jacket wearing jocks (with their leader voiced by Nathan Fillion). Basically itís REVENGE OF THE NERDS, but not as funny.
Being a Pixar movie, MONSTERS UNIVERITY obviously isnít a total loss. Like in MONSTERS INC., Goodman and Crystal make for an entertaining animated buddy-pair. Crystalís always been an insanely manic guy, so heís perfect voicing a seventeen-year-old Mike. As per her recent typecasting, Helen Mirren plays the stern, cruel University dean (a centipede scare champion), and while itís her usual ice-queen routine, it canít be said that sheís not ideal voice casting for the part. I also liked MAN MEN/ GOD BLESS AMERICAís Joel Murray as Oozma Kappaís resident mature student, a former salesman newly laid off (I guess the recession exists in Pixar-land too) and trying to fit in with the much younger students.
Still, it canít be denied that MONSTERS UNIVERITY is really lame as far as Pixar movies go.It still works pretty well for the kiddies, who will like the candy-colored Pixar universe and cuddly monsters, but their parents will be bored. Itís not awful, but the non-Pixar, Disney flick WRECK-IT RALPH was a lot better than this and more in line with the kind of movies they should be making.