I love Pixar’s 2001 film Monsters, Inc. Just like the majority of Pixar’s early films, it’s creative, unique, extremely well made and undeniably loveable. Unfortunately, director Pete Doctor, who further showed his ability to knock it out of the park with Up, is nowhere to be found with Monsters University – and it’s painfully obvious.
All of the great elements from Monsters, Inc are absent in Monsters University. Inc set up this great world from the viewpoint of the monsters who believe that children are deadly, but because their world is powered by the contained energy of the screams of children, they have to scare children in the night. This genius perspective creates a brilliant initiative to help children not be afraid of monsters. The camaraderie of the two central characters, Mike and Sully, is purely entertaining. When the human child “Boo” enters their world and gets them into a great amount of trouble, the film only gets better. Sadly, the key elements that make Monsters Inc are missing from Monsters U.
Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters Inc. You’d think that seeing the creation of Mike and Sully’s friendship would be solid entertainment, but it’s not. For the majority of the film, the two are competing college enemies. Frankly, it’s not fun to watch. And with the human aspect almost completely removed, it falls flat. The monster world isn’t expanded U. If anything, the rules of their world are changed from how they were established in Inc. As expected, by the end of University, the duo finds themselves trapped in a seemingly impossible predicament – but instead of finding an unpredictable way of getting out of it, the writers have simply changed the rules. Kids may not recognize or care about it, but I’m an adult who loves the Monsters world and only wants to see it expanded if it can be done with the integrity and creativity of the original – which Monsters U definitely does not do.
Of course, children are going to love this kids flick – but prior to seeing, adults who love Inc need to understand that the quality of University is closer to Cars 2 than Toy Story 2 or 3. Had Monsters University been made during the ’90s, it would have been amongst those bad Disney sequels that went directly to VHS. The charm, originality and creativity is gone.
Photo credit: Buena Vista