UK Release Date: 12th July 2013
Runtime: 104 minutes
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writer: Dan Scanlon, Daniel Gerson, Robert L Baird
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi
Synopsis: This prequel takes the characters of Monsters Inc back to their roots, studying scaring at college.
Pixar always takes a huge risk when it returns to its hugely successful old properties. Realising that there was no way they could do a sequel to 2001 hit Monsters Inc, the studio opted for a prequel. Whilst it isn’t even close to matching the originality and genius of the first film, Monsters University is an awful lot of fun.
Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) is inspired by a school trip to Monsters Inc and decides that he wants to become a scarer. He eventually makes it to Monsters University, where his roommate is Randall (Steve Buscemi). After he forms a rivalry with slacker student Sulley (John Goodman), a mishap leads to them being expelled from the scaring programme by Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren). In order to get back on top, the pair must work together.
It was always going to be a struggle for Monsters University. The first film was such a success that living up to it would not be easy. Fortunately, this prequel does a very good job. It separates itself from the original in many ways, but neatly dovetails elements of it into the plot. Characters from the first movie appear in unexpected places and these moments form some of the film’s highlights.
By losing the dynamic of Mike and Sulley being best friends, Monsters University sacrifices the organic chemistry that made the first film so funny. As a result, the humour in MU often feels forced and a result of a scriptwriting committee rather than natural character development. There are good gags in there, but very few truly hilarious moments.
Monsters University works on the basis of its characters’ charms. John Goodman and Billy Crystal have a great natural chemistry, even as enemies, and it’s their easy charms that carry the movie through. Other characters introduced promisingly, such as Steve Buscemi’s Randall, are more or less discarded in favour of the fairly standard sports movie plotline.
Unfortunately for Monsters University, it could’ve done with a little bit more imagination. Natural warmth and an inbuilt love for the characters can only carry the movie so far. The unoriginal plot and fairly mediocre script mean that this is only a decent film, rather than the great film it could’ve been.
For an animated movie to kick-start the summer holidays, go and see Despicable Me 2 instead.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.