The Magical World Of Disney #81: Monsters University

Monsters University poster 3.jpg

Monsters University is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, with John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich as executive producers. It is the fourteenth feature film produced by Pixar and is a prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc., marking the first time Pixar has made a prequel film.

Disney, as the rights holder, had plans for a sequel to Monsters, Inc. since 2005. Following disagreements with Pixar, Disney tasked its Circle 7 Animation unit to make the film. An early draft of the film was developed; however, Disney’s purchase of Pixar in early 2006 led to the cancellation of Circle 7’s version of the film. A Pixar-made sequel was confirmed in 2010, and in 2011, it was confirmed that the film would instead be a prequel titled Monsters University.

Monsters University tells the story of two monsters, Mike and Sulley, and their time studying at college, where they start off as rivals, but slowly become best friends. John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger reprise their roles as James P. Sullivan, Mike Wazowski, Randall Boggs, Roz, and the Abominable Snowman, respectively. Bonnie Hunt, who played Ms. Flint in the first film, voices Mike’s grade school teacher Ms. Karen Graves. The music for the film is composed by Randy Newman, marking his seventh collaboration with Pixar.

Monsters University premiered on June 5, 2013, at the BFI Southbank in London, United Kingdom and was released on June 21, 2013, in the United States. It was accompanied in theaters by a short film, The Blue Umbrella, directed by Saschka Unseld. The film grossed $744 million against its estimated budget of $200 million. An animated short film titled Party Central, which takes place shortly after the events of Monsters University, premiered in Fall 2013.

Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) are an inseparable pair, but that wasn’t always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met they couldn’t stand each other. “Monsters University” unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

While it wasn’t a classic, the first Monsters Inc. had a lot of great things about it, the creativity in its’ characters, story, and overall feel is definitely out in the open. It has a good heart to it and while it may not be up with Pixar’s best, it’s an overall good movie. Not to the point where I feel we needed a prequel, but here it is.

In fact, most people have said that this is strictly a ‘cash grab’ for Pixar and while I can’t argue that, a prequel to this is at least a better cash grab than another Cars movie or…

Oh, I can’t wait to talk about that one.

And Monsters Inc. has a more prominent fanbase that Cars ever had so a continuation doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

So, did Monsters University live up to the potential it had from its’ trailers?

Not only that but in terms of the big summer blockbusters that have come out so far, this is actually my favorite one of the summer.

Like with This Is The End, this is a movie that doesn’t pull a BS cop out at the third act and at least, allows you to enjoy what’s going on.

This is Pixar’s best movie they’ve made since Toy Story 3 because this is the first movie since Toy Story 3 where you can see Pixar’s creativity coming back into the picture, in terms of characters and visuals.

Not only do our two returning characters, Mike & Sully, each keep what we like about them in this movie as well as thrown in a believable rivalry, but the new characters in this one are great. I liked the designs on some of these characters, this is going back to part of what Pixar does best. Probably the two most memorable new characters to me were Art (voiced by Charlie Day), but then again it’s Charlie Day, everything he does is hilarious, and Dean Hardscrabble (voiced by Helen Mirren), who just has a cool design to her and Mirren creates the voice for this character perfectly.

That’s not to say the other characters aren’t memorable, a lot of them are pretty good but when I think of the new characters I liked in the movie, those are the two that stick out for me.

The visuals in here are incredible, this is some of the best computer animation that I’ve seen from Pixar since, again, Toy Story 3. The designs on the colleges and pavements look really good as well.

The overall story and direction is also done very well too. Coming from first time writers and directors of a feature film, it’s a pretty good debut film.

I do have one complaint about what I didn’t like about the movie.

The voice cast is WAY too recognizable, they had so many recognizable names in here, it kind of took me out of the movie. Not only did you have Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Charlie Day, and Helen Mirren in the cast but you also had Alfred Molina, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Aubrey Plaza, Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, John Krasinski, Bonnie Hunt, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, Julia Sweeney, and Beth Behrs.

Not that I have a problem with that as long as they give good performances, and for the most part, they do. But there are so many recognizable names in that cast, that it takes me out of the film because you’d think Pixar would be above just casting all these big stars. With DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox, they can get away with that because they had been doing that since the beginning, but for Pixar to do this, you really want to look at them and go, “Come on, guys. You’re above this.”

Hell, Fox just did the exact same thing with Epic, casting all these big stars for roles that don’t need to have these big stars as the voice. Seriously, did Steven Tyler have to show up as the scroll keeper? That could’ve gone to a lesser known actor but no, we’ll throw in Steven Tyler for shits and giggles.

With that said, I really did like Monsters University. With this and Oz: The Great & Powerful, it’s becoming clear that if you want a great prequel, Disney is the place to go.

Monsters University is a solid family film with a lot of great characters, a good story, good laughs, impressive visuals, and you can easily see Pixar’s creativity returning into the picture that was missing in Cars 2 and Brave.

Of the summer blockbusters released, this is the one that I came out really loving because they don’t cop out at the end.

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Posted in The Magical World Of Disney

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