My Thoughts: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013)

Pre-Order-Monsters-University

I wasn’t too excited when I heard that a prequel to “Monsters, Inc.” was in the making. Yes, I LOVE “Monsters, Inc.” (it’s my favorite Pixar film), so I was excited to see my favorite characters return in a cinematic production. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be disappointed by them appearing in a less-than-mediocre prequel.

Anyway, I finally watched the movie. What did I think of it? Well, let’s talk about the film first.

The film is a prequel to “Monsters, Inc.”,

you already said that

and features Mike and Sulley as college students in the prestigious Monsters University. They are not friends in the beginning and actually don’t get along very well. But they constantly have to deal with seeing each other, because they are both majoring in the same field: “scaring” (or “scareology”).

In case it wasn't clear...
In case it wasn’t clear…

Sadly, the are both kicked out of the scaring program by the dean, Abigail Hardscrabble, after destroying college property and failing the scaring final.

You don't mess with somebody whose last name is their favorite game as well as the difficulty level that they play it on.
You don’t mess with somebody whose last name is their favorite game as well as the difficulty level that they play it on.

But, Mike gets an idea on how he can get back in the program. He joins the college’s “Scare Games”, a sort of competition between fraternities in which each fraternity has to go through a number of rounds of scaring exercises. The loser fraternity of each round is disqualified and the victor is the last remaining fraternity. 

To qualify, Mike joins the Oozma Kappa fraternity, an unpopular fraternity comprised of not very frightening monsters who have all been kicked out of the scaring program at what point or another.

Even they're shocked that Mike would join them and actually hope to win!
Even they’re shocked that Mike would join them!

Sully also joins the fraternity, since they need one more monster to qualify, much to Mike’s displeasure.

"I'm here whether you like it or not. I hope you don't."
“I’m here whether you like it or not. I hope you don’t.”

 Mike then makes a deal with Dean Hardscrabble that if his fraternity wins the Scare Games, then she’ll have to accept them all back into the scaring program. Dean Hardscrabble agrees and adds that if their fraternity loses, then they’re all to leave Monsters University for good.

Now they're shocked that Mike actually thinks that they have a chance to win.
Now they’re shocked that Mike actually thinks that they have a chance to win.

And the rest of the film is about them training for the Scare Games and going through the ups and downs of being a team.

Ok, so the story isn’t really that bad, and actually kinda cool. I wouldn’t call it clever, but it’s definitely an interesting premise. The only problem with the story is that many scenarios/events occur in this film that very much ruin the continuity of the original “Monsters, Inc.”. It’s an annoying trait, but I guess, not a detrimental one.

Now, let’s talk about the other aspects of the movie. What can I say about the voice acting? Many of the voice actors from “Monsters, Inc.” reprise their roles in this film (Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Ratzenberger, etc.) and they all do their jobs as wonderfully as they did in the first movie.

This film also features new voice actors such as Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Joel Murray, and Aubrey Plaza amongst others. And I thought they all did very well. I especially loved Joel Murray’s performance as Don Carlton, a middle-aged monster who’s returned to university. He makes the character so likable!

I'd totally watch a spin-off movie featuring this guy alone!
I’d totally watch a spin-off movie featuring this guy alone!

The animation is very detailed. The animators animated college buildings and frat houses with immaculate detail. I am a university student myself, and the animation is so accurate that it makes Monsters University feel like a real place.

monsters university animation1

monsters university animation2

monsters university animation3

monsters university animation4

monsters university animation5

Apparently, some of the animators even spent a few weeks in frat houses just to get enough accurate information for their work. Well, at least, I HOPE it was accurate information they were getting and not other things.

"Is the LSD in there?" "Yep." "Great, everyone at Pixar is after the Lea Salonga Demo. Soon we'll have that musical legend sing a song for one of our films. MUAHAHAHAA!!!!"
“Is the LSD in there?”
“Yep.”
“Great, everyone at Pixar is after the Lea Salonga Demo. Soon we’ll have that musical legend sing a song for one of our films. MUAHAHAHAA!!!!”

So all in all, what did I think of the movie? I liked it…

but

BUT…it’s definitely part of what I call Pixar’s “OK movies” era. These are the movies in Pixar’s Canon that aren’t horrible, but they’re at such a lesser quality than Pixar’s previous works that they stand out as being inferior, i.e. the effort and creativity put into these films seems much less than the effort and creativity put into the earlier films. I liken them to the second half of the Disney Renaissance (“Pocahontas” and “Hercules” are nothing when compared to “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King”). In my opinion, Pixar’s “OK movies” era started with “Up”, and continued with “Cars 2”“Brave” and now this.

"You still don't like me, do you?" "Nope."
“You still don’t like me, do you?”
“Nope.”

Summing up, I’m glad I saw it, and would see it again. But it’s not incredible and the original is, of course, a better film!

monsters university ranking

14 thoughts on “My Thoughts: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013)”

  1. I also thought it was just an “ok movie”; but what did you think of what happens in the third act once the scare games are over?? I thought that was a pretty daring plot twist and what kept me from dismissing the movie

  2. I agree with most of the things in this review. I did notice the continuity errors. When I watched the film, I gave it such a positive review because I was so caught up in the nostalgia and it seemed much better than the films before.

    1. Sorry 😦 ! If you read my “Top 13 Animated Films I Dislike, but everyone else likes” list, you’ll find “Up” there. I never liked the movie and honestly found it below par and somewhat silly. That’s why I consider it to be in Pixar’s “OK movies” era.

      What did you think of “Monsters University”?

      1. You also listed WALL-E there, so shouldn’t the era have started in your opinion with WALL-E?

        And why isn’t Toy Story 3 there if you didn’t like it?

      2. Well, regarding “Wall-E”, it’s more of a personal preference. I personally dislike “Wall-E”, but I do believe that there was a lot of effort and creativity put into it; it’s just not a movie designed for me. It’s like “Fantasia”. I dislike it, but I commend it for its great animation and experimentation, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

        I actually love “Toy Story 3”, which is why I said Pixar’s OK era started with “Up”, but continued with “Cars 2″…etc. I skipped “Toy Story 3” in my explanation on purpose.

  3. Wow, I want to say a lot, but some lt want to give away my entire MU segment on my upcoming post. I agree with the continuity points, animation, and I find the characters to be extremely different than the first movie; too different wen after development. Pacing could also be better.

    Up is the start of your OK era? It’s all good. It is like me saying I don’t see BatB really being much better than films like Tarzan or Mulan or Hunchback. While I have not seen some of the films this year yet, it is clea that this one is the best so far.

  4. The breaches in continuity with the original MONSTERS, INC. make me dismiss this film, personally. I admit, there are some likable aspects, but on the whole, I wouldn’t watch it again…

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