Monsters University Review

Is there such thing as a bad Pixar film? In my honest opinion, no. While I will concede that Cars 2 wasn't their strongest work, but in no way was it "bad". Instead of expanding on an established property with a sequel, Pixar have this time delved into the Monsters Inc universe and created a prequel which establishes the relationship between a young Mike Wazowski (green beach ball with one eye) and James "Sulley" Sullivan (great big blue kitty cat). While we know the outcome, the journey to Monsters Inc is where the fun's at.

Essentially, Monsters University is a Pixar version of American Pie albeit without the rude bits. After being introduced to the young and idealistic Mike we are transported to those halcyon days of college complete with bitter rivalries, crippling anxiety and parties that you were never invited to. Ahhh, those were the days.

Like with all Pixar films, we're lucky enough to be treated to a short film prior to the film-proper kicks off. In this instance The Blue Umbrella, directed by Saschka Unseld, is a beautiful and touching example of ultra-photorealistic animation which manages to avoid the "uncanny valley" simply by omitting any human characters face. Instead, the beautifully animated backgrounds and cartoonishly animated umbrellas remain the focus. Here I was thinking that Wreck it Ralph's opening batter, Paperman, was as good as it gets - I was wrong.

The animation in Monsters University is truly remarkable. One particular element that offers an extreme diversity to the screen is a focus on texture. Each of the monsters, of which there are many, each have their own unique and terrifying attributes such as coarse fur, slimy suckers or prickly mandibles. Add to this an ability to give depth to the picture through the use of opaque tones and a fluidity rarely seen and you have a setting that feels remarkable physical. For all its whimsy, the Monsters University world feels very real.

Upon hearing Billy Crystal and John Goodman in the same scene, the film immediately develops heart. If someone were to tell me that they were mortal enemies, I'd be nothing short of astonished. Their chemistry is electric which leaves you feeling as though you've just hung out with old friends. Additional voices of an incredible calibre such as Helen Mirren, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza and the delightful Joel Murray all make appearances and leave an indelible mark on the Monsters franchise. Long time collaborator, Randy Newman, returns as composer and delivers a lighter, younger and fresher soundtrack than its predecessor although it doesn't quite leave as memorable an impression.

While this is an incredibly fun film with a number of references to the original film, it lacks the heart that was the main attributing factor towards the emotion filled Monster Inc. In short, it lacked Boo. While at no point did I tear up like I do every time I watch Monsters Inc (that last scene, "Boo?" gets me every time!), this was still a great deal of fun and helped to flesh out the Monster universe. It showed that the monsters weren't just a pack of scary jerks before the inception of laugh power, they were just normal. Well, as normal as you could expect. A lovely and incredibly fun film that adds to the Monsters mythos while managing to be a far superior sequel/prequel than you could hope for.

Monsters University is in Australian cinemas from 20 June 2013.


  1. Good Movie....A perfect Prequel to Monster's INC. I loved the movie however the first movie was much cuter than this.


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