The problem every sequel/prequel has is that everybody asks “is it as good as the last one?”. The particular issue facing Monsters University is that Monsters Inc stands not only as one of the top Pixar films, but also one of my favourite films of all time. The short answer is that no it isn’t as good as Monsters Inc. But by god it comes close, and that is amazing!
I love the world creation, the original ideas, the incredible characters and the undeniable chemistry between John Goodman and Billy Crystal. In fact I am not afraid to admit that I have Mike and Sully cuddly toys and am currently making my way through a box of ‘Monster Crunch’ cereal, which has a great big Mike Wazowski face plastered across the front of it. Yes I am head over heels in love with the Monsters universe.
Because of this I carried a great deal of love and good hope into the cinema when watching MU. I suppose that means it could have very easily disappointed me, but it didn’t.
The story sees a young Mike as he makes his way through the titular college. He has idolised the great Scarers ever since he was a toddler and has made it his life’s mission to become a legend himself. The problem is that he is not scary, and no matter how much work he puts in to learn every aspect of scare theory, he cannot deliver when it comes to practical application. On the other hand a young ‘Jimmy’ Sullivan has the world in the palm of his hand. He comes from a long line of revered Scarers and so doesn’t have to put any effort in at school. Thus the two who we know as best friends start this film as bitter rivals.
The turning point of the film comes when Sully and Mike have a showdown that leads them to be expelled from school; they must work together to be accepted back on to the course and prove they both have what it takes to become world class monsters.
Along the way we meet a myriad of new and hilarious characters who each represent a different facet of the college lifestyle. Nathan Fillion plays the ultimate jock, Charlie Day plays Art, the stoner/bohemian, Alfred Molina is the deadpan Professor Knight and the geeks (Squishy, Don, Terry and Terri) are played by Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Dave Foley and Sean Hayes respectively.
The voice cast are all note perfect and make the new roster of characters easy to get to know, and easy to love/hate!
“Want to join Oozma Kappa?…..We’ve got cake!”
As with all the best Pixar films it is the story that matters most. This is why Pixar still stands head and shoulders above the other animation companies. They never rely solely on sight gags or pop culture references (I’m looking at you Despicable Me 2), but instead carve out a meaningful, funny and emotional story that means at the end of the running time we feel like we witnessed something that truly mattered, as well as made us laugh our socks off.
There are so many great lines, great jokes and great relationships that it is honestly difficult to single out what worked the best. Suffice to say you will have a huge smile on your face no matter how old you are.
Much like the best episodes of The Simpsons it kind of feels like this film was made more for adults than kids. I guarantee that kids who see it now will appreciate the jokes more and more as they get older, thus giving it a very timeless quality. For that it should be greatly applauded.
If I were to nitpick I would say that certain sections of the film feel a bit long. Admittedly I was fighting off a serious bout of man-flu when I watched it so it may be that I had less patience that I normally would. But at times it did risk becoming bogged down in schmaltz. On the whole though, this is a fantastic film that works for every generation. It has some great life lessons and is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema this year.
As a final note I would like to request Pixar release a cuddly toy of the Slug character, who you may have seen in the trailer (the one who is desperate to get to class on time). Come on guys, he’s easily the star of the show!!!