Is Monsters University Worth Watching?

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Does the prequel to the 2001 classic make a passing grade? 

In 2001, Pixar was tasked with delivering their first follow-up to the hugely successful sequel to Toy Story, giving us a movie that would have to cement Pixar as the studio that would be responsible for the next generation of Disney family classics.

We received Monsters Inc., which was a big hit and is widely regarded as one of Pixar’s best.

In a dimension removed from our own, “monsters” live in a pseudo-human society that is powered, literally, by the screams of children. To supply their world with continuous energy, monsters are in the business of harnessing these screams by walking into the human world via “doors” and scaring children.

The original movie gave us a scaring duo, Mike and Sully, who accidentally found themselves harboring a human child named Boo, which was troublesome since humans are considered “toxic” in the monster world. Mike and Sully subsequently uncover a massive conspiracy behind “Monsters Inc.,” alluding to the dangers of energy corporatism and the ills of oil as an energy source.

Don’t believe me? Think about it. The monsters eventually turn to a “better” resource by the end of the original movie that is superior in quality and gathering, an overt reference to green energy. Yeah, your childhood.

Going into Monsters University, a prequel to the original that details how Mike and Sully originally became friends, I couldn’t help but feel confused as to how we would be sold on rooting for “scaring” again, which is what we found to be “bad” in the first movie.

Also, where would the heart of this movie be without Boo?

946484_667105916639602_510483227_nWell, the movie goes to great lengths to address these problems, and with the original movie tying up all loose ends, they had no choice to go the prequel route, so I give Pixar a pass on that.

Monsters University is very much a movie about Mike Wazowski, in the way that Sully was really the central figure of Monsters Inc. Only this time, Mike serves as the heart and driving character of the movie, which actually works out.

Yes, the movie uncovers how he and Sully became unlikely friends, but it’s really more about how Mike, a less-than-frightening monster, goes to extreme lengths to “out-monster” his rivals through sheer determination and will. It’s an underdog story that uses its subsidiary characters to full advantage.

The movie begins with Mike Wazowski visiting “Monsters Inc.” as a child and deciding that he wants to be a “scarer” someday. Skipping forward, we learn that he has spent years obsessed with learning every possible technique for scaring there is, giving him the chance to enroll in Monsters University, a school that teaches monsters how to scare.

Mike quickly meets Sully, a jock coasting on his family name and physical appearance. Unlike Mike, Sully considers scaring to be nothing but emotion and raw talent, setting him up as the “Kirk” to Mike’s “Spock.”

1018_663957250287802_1284235275_nThe two eventually become hesitant allies in a series of events called the “Scare Games,” an all-or-nothing competition to prove they are the best “scarers” at the school. I won’t spoil it, but the stakes are actually pretty high leading up to their participation in these games, making this underdog story fun and exciting.

The surprise hits of this movie come in the form of Mike and Sully’s fraternity, Oozma Kappa (“OK”), a group of nerdy monsters that were the only fraternity that would take in our main characters.

I found myself enjoying their movie almost as much as Mike and Sully’s, which is actually a good thing. The monsters of OK were constantly stealing scenes and breaking up the drama between the main characters. Leave it to Pixar to throw us a curveball.

Also, if you haven’t noticed, Monsters University sets itself up as a family oriented Revenge of the Nerds mixed with that great Pixar heart we’ve all come to love.

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Overall, the movie is hilarious and the way they wrapped things up was actually perfect in my view. Does it measure up to the original? Of course not, I doubt it ever could. But it knows that it’s a prequel and delivers as an almost-perfect prequel that will undoubtedly please kids and adults alike.

So yes, it is definitely worth watching.

P.S. the animated short following up the to the movie, “The Blue Umbrella”, was actually very disappointing and the first Pixar short that really fell flat for me. Don’t stress out if you miss it.

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Photo Credits: https://www.facebook.com/PixarMonstersUniversity

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22 thoughts on “Is Monsters University Worth Watching?

  1. Good review. :-) Just saw this and about to write my own review. Think we mostly agree on this one. Obviously not as good as the first (don’t think that would be possible!) but still definitely worth watching.

  2. I really enjoyed MU as much as MI, it was a great surprise, in terms of measuring movies, they’re both enjoyable to watch, masterfully produced and great stories and thus in my view, are equal measure.

    At first I didn’t really enjoy the photorealism of Blue Umbrella, but still goes to prove that Pixar tell the best love stories. It grew on me by the end and gave me several warm and fuzzy feels.

  3. I disagree, I thought the prequel was better than the original which surprised me. Maybe that was because I was a kid when I first saw MI so I’m too used to it to have a strong opinion on it. Whatever, were all entitled to our own opinion. But fuck you, the Blue Umbrella was incredible and one of my favorite shorts that they did. If you missed it, then look it up on youtube or something because feels.

        • Actually, 3 stuck out to me:
          1. Mike’s teddy bear
          2. Mike’s catchphrase: “If you’re going to insult me, at least think of something clever!”
          3. A poster in their dorm that says “Winds of Change”

          You can find all of these in the long trailer, to my knowledge.

  4. How was the blue umbrella any different than paper airplanes? That’s all I could think while watching.
    Regardless, I thought MU was awesome. I think this is due to the fact that I was using Despicable Me 2 as comparison and not the original.

  5. MI and MU are both deffinitely awesome… just in different ways. MI is about heart and taking care of your loved ones while MU is about proving yourself and not giving up. if you come to think about it they both show the best of their protagonist and that’s why they are so different yet so similar. I’d dare to say that if you preffer MI over MU you probably preffer Sulley over Mike and viceversa. they are both unique and they (like Mike and Sulley) complement each other.

    About the blue Umbrella…. I though it was visually awesome. It all looked so real it was hard for me to believe it was animation rather that live-action, in that sense it was just beautiful. The story may not be as complex as in other pixar shorts but it was still moving and the photography make up for it.

  6. Hey Jon in the spirit of your pixar theory (small spoiler) Sully is referred to at the summer camp in the dark as a bear. which falls right in with brave. also the bus logo on the charter is the cars logo.

  7. The only thing that didn’t add up for me in Monsters University was that in Monsters Inc., Mike commented to Sully that he had been jealous of his good looks since the fourth grade. We are supposed to believe that Mike and Sully first met and grew into friends at college. How could Sully be jealous of Mike’s good looks since the fourth grade if they didn’t know each other then?

    • That’s an inconsistency Pixar addressed. During production it was decided that Mike and Sully should meet at University despite that line in Monsters Inc. They know it’s inconsistent but decided that Monsters University worked better with them meeting for the first time on campus.

  8. Whilst I enjoyed “MU”, I did fine there were a few things that were left unclear, or dealt with incorrectly. One of the biggest points was the meeting point of Mike and Sulley. In “MI”, the characters state that they met in the fourth grade, which contradicts the outcomes of this new film. I did enjoy the inclusion of Roz and the Abominable Snowman in “MU”, but considering both Mike and Sulley had worked with these characters, it seems strange that they had no idea of their pasts, or true identities in Monsters Inc.

  9. This movie actually changed what pixar originally imagined for Mike and Sully. In the commercial for the movie, even though it was about a minute long, Sully tells Mike that in the fifth grade, when he was passing notes to a girl, the rest of the class was studying geography. Man, I loved that commercial. Let’s watch it again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvOQeozL4S0

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