Pixar finally returns from its three-year hiatus (I think it’s better to forget that Cars 2 and Brave happened) with the latest installment in the Mike and Sulley saga. Directed by first-timer Dan Scanlon, Monsters University reunites the beloved voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi while introducing a powerhouse of supporting humanoids voiced by Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, Aubrey Plaza, Charlie Day, John Krasinski, AND MORE! It is my pleasure to report that real Pixarian heart and humor are back for summer 2013.
Monsters University takes us back to studious wannabe-scarer, Mike Wazowski’s (Billy Crystal), first day as a freshman at the illustrious scaring school of MU where he meets his eager roomie, Randal Boggs (Steve Buscemi), and the naturally talented slacker, James P. “Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman). Butting personalities lead to bitter rivalry culminating in Mike & Sulley’s expulsion from scaring school. The only solution to continuing their dreams of becoming scarers at Monsters Inc. is to jointly lead a misfit fraternity (Oozma Kappa) team to victory in the university’s annual Scare Games. Friendships are made, lessons are learned, ect.
Much like its sequel, Monsters University will probably be very few people’s favorite entry in the Pixar library, but average Pixar is still top of the class in family entertainment school! Characters are endearing and superbly acted while the extremely detailed Monsters universe expands with wit and charm. There is much fun to be had in the monsterfication of college and sports culture. Of course, the visual design is gorgeous. A classy and jazzy Randy Newman score accompanies the story, although I was quite disappointed by the lack of a new original Randy Newman Academy Award nominated song for the credit sequence. What most pleased me about this film is that when it starts to diverge into familiar competition/sports movie territory, the Pixar story weavers throw in just enough convention defying turns to keep things fresh. It’s no Wall-E, but Monsters University is more than adequate summer family entertainment that is sure to sell tons of Disney merchandise, especially in Japan.
Also, Saschka Unseld’s preceding short film, The Blue Umbrella, is BEAUTIFUL!