I was about 7 when Monsters Inc came out in the Cinema, which means that I am part of the generation who saw this and are now going to University, which is exactly who Pixar had in mind when they set this prequel at a university, which is part of the clever timing of film releases that Pixar demonstrated with the Toy Story trilogy. So as well as classic Pixar cleverness we also have something new. Interestingly this is actually the first time ever that Pixar have done a prequel. And quite frankly I’m left wondering why it took this long, they did a brilliant job on this.
MU gained a lot of hype with it’s advertising campaign, including the finest movie website I’ve ever seen, set up to look like a proper university website, that would really have wetted the appetite of those going through university admissions at the time. I’m often left worried that too much hype leading into a film will hurt the film, as with Prometheus, but MU managed to avoid this as it began early enough in advance for some of the hype to have cooled down, and Pixar managed to deliver another great film.
Now it’s not quite up there with Pixar’s finest works (like Up, Wall-E, Incredibles or Toy Story) but Monsters University is a charming and funny romp that really captures the spirit of the original Monsters film. In MU Mike’s hardworking, but lack of scariness, and Sully’s natural fear factor, but lack of work ethic, see them clash as rivals as opposed to the best friends they are in the original. But, as with any prequel, the obvious goal that is being worked towards is to end where the original film kicked off, which always makes them trickier as there isn’t really any tension in how they’ll finish. However you never really feel that MU suffers from this, as it draws a lot of it’s interest in seeing Mike and Sully grow as immature youngsters into the characters we know and love.
The real crux of a Pixar film however is the marrying of these interesting characters with laughs, for both the youngster and older audience members. Obviously it manages to pack in many jokes youngsters will love, a lot courtesy of new characters Art, Squishy and Terry & Terri. But there’s also a lot there for those who saw the original in cinemas, as I did, with plenty of university gags, such as with societies, American frats ect. As well as some brilliant nods to the original Monsters film, including a great turn from MI villain Randall Boggs, whose journey completely explains how he becomes like he is in the original, and several other that I don’t want to ruin for those yet to see the film.
All in all Monsters University may not be Pixar’s best film, but it is somewhat of a return to form for them after the awful Cars 2 and rather average Brave, so get down to the cinema now and get watching Monsters University.