We all know that Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are friends. What we don’t know is how they really become friends, and that’s really what “Monsters University” aims to do: show you how they come to be the scare team we meet in the original 2001 film. And if there is still any doubt that Disney Pixar can deliver a great animation, then any and all reservations are thrown out the window thanks to “Monsters University.” The prequel (and thankfully not a sequel) is armed with funny moments, infectious energy, and it’ll make you feel extremely happy afterward.
So, Wazowski’s childhood dream is to be a scarer and to attend Monsters University. When he finally gets there, the welcome he receives from the Scaring School is less than pleasant. Ironically, Wazowski’s roommate is not Sulley as everyone expects, but the two definitely don’t waste any time hating on each other.
After getting kicked out of the scaring program, Wazowski tries one final time to prove himself by entering himself—and the university’s less than scary fraternity, Oozma Kappa—into a scare competition. This is when Wazowski and Sulley really have to learn to work together or risk getting kicked out of the university for good.
The backdrop of the university really does well in introducing several new and fun characters and bringing back a few familiar faces as well. No, the little girl from “Monsters, Inc.” is not in the film, but that doesn’t hinder it at all. It still keeps its charm and its quick and witty energy without prolonging anything.In fact, the film seems to go by a lot faster than its run time of an hour and forty or so minutes. There’s never a boring moment.
“Monsters University” is the first Disney Pixar animation this year and already it stands far above last month’s “Epic,” whose clunky characters and pacing slowed down the film and made it less than memorable.
The animation is impeccable, but that’s not surprising given this particular animation studio. There are a lot of callbacks to the original film, but the prequel doesn’t try to play off of already used and previously successful jokes and plot lines.“Monsters University” feels fresh and segues into the beginning of the first film so perfectly that you’ll think it was actually made prior to the original.
There are a lot of shout outs and the voice cast delivers on a great and generally tight script. There is a scene at the end in which a little bit of consistency in the urgency of child/monster relations is not as tight as it should be, but the film is so fun and well done that it’s easily forgivable.
John Goodman and Billy Crystal are at the top of their game, and the rest of the new and old voice cast perform well in their roles. Helen Mirren gets extra credit for her portrayal of Dean Hardscrabble, who is overly serious and uptight in her leadership of the university. The funny moments aren’t forced and the character chemistry and depth is there. It’s easily watchable and enjoyable for both children and adults, playing to both demographics well.
If one thing is harder to make than a sequel, it’s a prequel. The rules are a little different since the movie spans the time before the first film, so there’s a lot of pressure to give the characters a good opening without making it cheesy and over the top. “Monsters University” is a well- executed prequel, making time for everything without feeling rushed. The film is genuinely funny,heartwarming, and entertaining. It’s a great addition to the Disney-Pixar animation family and a worthy prequel.