Twelve years have passed since we were first introduced to Mike and Sully, the two lovable monsters working at Monsters Inc. Since that Pixar continued its meteoric rise, releasing the likes of Up, Toy Story 3 and Wall-E. However since 2010 the once dependable company has been on somewhat of a slide, movies like Brave and Cars have failed to capture the imagination quite like their predecessors, leaving many wondering whether their glory days are behind them.
Monsters University is Pixar’s first attempt at a prequel and whilst many people have seen that as Pixar running out of ideas I for one am perfectly fine with them doing new things with the characters we already know and love. So could Monsters University be a much welcomed return to form, or would it be another below standard entry from this once unstoppable force?
Thankfully the movie falls closer to the latter camp. Monsters University, whilst not having the imagination of previous Pixar entries is still a hilarious and at times heart warming entry into the Pixar canon and one which will no doubt continue to delight young and old alike.
The story is thus: Mike has dreamed of being a scarer ever since he was a little (and very adorable) child, he has worked his socks off all his life to get to Monsters University (MU for short) in order to achieve his goal. Sully on the other hand comes from a long line of scarers and appears to have been blessed with the attributes Mike craves. Upon arriving at MU the two monsters instantly take a disliking to each other, Mike is a hard working book worm whilst Sully sunders about showing off. The two appear to have no use for each other, this is until they are both cast out of the school and are forced to enter the ‘scare games’ with a bunch of misfit monsters in order to regain their place, and their pride.
Challenging the boys to re-earn their place is Dean Hardscrabble, the terrifying record breaking scarer voiced by Helen Mirren. Mirren’s voice work contributes to a stellar cast which include John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi all reprising their roles from the original movie.
Whilst not being as strong as previous Pixar entries the movie is certainly innovative at times, though it often feels as though this in place of more important things like plot and humour. The opening half hour of the movie (other than a brilliant opening five minutes) moves at a very slow pace and the film feels more content to show us a new array of monsters as opposed to giving us anything to really sink our teeth into. However when the film does finally manage to find its feet needless to say it runs with them. The second half of the film provides non-stop laughs and entertainment and the final half hour, juxtaposed with the opening is reminiscent of the good old days of Pixar.
Some of the movies new characters, most notably Art voiced by Charlie Day are brilliant additions to the mix providing us with some of the movies memorable lines and moments. As usual it is also littered with easter eggs concerning other movies and it also gives us a scene which is a very random homage to the movie Carrie.
What has concerned most people is the frat-boy setting of the film. Films centred on American high schools and the messages that often come with this have been done to death but thankfully Pixar have managed to find a slightly different route to go down with the movie providing us with an ending we weren’t quite expecting.
Verdict: There are certainly things that could have been done better. The monster’s interaction with humans felt like a very intelligent angle which could have been touched on a little more and the opening half hour is pretty drab but other than that this is a welcome return to form from Pixar. The movie provides us with laughs a plenty and simply put if you don’t leave this film with a big grin on your face then you should probably check your pulse.