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Movie Review: Monsters University
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Monsters University PosterMonsters University
Director: Dan Scanlon
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Aubrey Plaza, Nathan Fillion, Bobby Moynihan, Charlie Day, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley
Walt Disney Pictures | Pixar
Rated G | 110 Minutes
Release Date: June 21, 2013

Directed by Dan Scanlon, Monsters University is a prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc that concerns the origins of Michael “Mike” Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan’s (voiced by John Goodman) friendship and professional partnership.

Set 10 years before Monsters Inc., Scanlon’s film is essentially a rehash of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds with a group of uncool kids who form their own fraternity to compete against a gang of jocks and bullies.

Mike and Sulley are both in the university’s prestigious scaring program but have differing philosophies on the art of terrifying little children. Mike is the quintessential college nerd, devoting 100 percent of his time to studying in his dorm room. Sulley is the prototypical jock, the son of a famous Scarer who coasts through classes thanks to his undeniable natural talent.

After their personal rivalry gets them booted from the scaring program, Mike and Sulley are forced to team up and win the university’s annual Scare Games to prove to Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) they’re worthy of the program. In order to compete in the games they need to join a fraternity. Of course the only frat that will have them is Oozma Kappa, the lamest frat on campus. Hilarious, formulaic hijinks ensue as Mike and Sulley train their nonthreatening frat brothers to out-scare Roar Omega Roar, the university’s jock fraternity.

Monsters University Mikey

Monsters University has an impressive voice cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Aubrey Plaza, Nathan Fillion, SNL’s Bobby Moynihan, and Charlie Day. Billy Crystal and John Goodman add further dimension to their iconic characters while Pixar’s finest expand the universe with a variety of multicolored monsters and over-the-top personalities.

Director Dan Scanlon served as an animator on The Indescribable Nth and Joseph: King of Dreams before joining Pixar in 2001 where he was a story artist for Cars and Toy Story 3 and co-directed the animated short Mater and the Ghostlight. With Monsters University, Scanlon delivers a fun, crowd-pleasing movie that brings Pixar back from the edge after two disappointing features in Cars 2 and Brave.

If Monsters U was an original film and not the second entry in Pixar’s latest franchise, it would probably be received better – but Pixar’s current trend of sequelizing everything (Cars 2, Finding Nemo 2, Toy Story 4, Incredibles 2) has diminished the animation company’s ability to create fresh, creative content.

Luckily Pixar has a few original projects in the pipeline including The Good Dinosaur and Monsters Inc. director Peter Docter’s Inside Out. I just hope they don’t try to make a Brave sequel, I’m not sure I’m ready for Brave 2: Brave Harder where Merida and the Family Bear Band travel the countryside playing Celtic folk tunes.

It isn’t the next Ratatouille or Up, but Monsters University is a heartwarming children’s flick that appeals to older audiences with its references to classic college comedies like National Lampoon’s Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. If you’re looking for a family-friendly alternative to all the doom and gloom at the multiplex this summer, Scanlon’s film is a solid choice.

Trailer:

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