Monster’s University (2013)
Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren
‘Monsters Universtiy’ essentially pitches us Sully and Mike: The Early Years, and whilst Pixar have tackled sequels before (to varying success), this is their first venture into prequel territory. ‘Monsters University’ shows how the scaring dream team from ‘Monsters, Inc.’ came to be in existence, taking the story all the way back to their college days. It also shows how they weren’t exactly best buddies in the beginning either, but that’s pretty much par for the course with this kind of story.
It reminds me of the description that one of my favourite podcasts, The Weekly Planet, gave to ‘Batman Vs Superman’; “They fight for a bit, but then they’re mates”. To concentrate on the positives, which are unfortunately few, the Pixar standard of animation is still ludicrously high, as is the quality of the voice acting. John Goodman and Billy Crystal return as Sully and Mike respectively, whilst Steve Buscemi gets to put a spin on the character of Randy. It’s got a charming, simple story, which introduces us to some of the characters we came to know and love from “Monsters Inc.”, as well as some memorable new ones, in the form of Sully and Mike’s new classmates.
However, with the good, there must be the bad and this is where the problems start for me. First off, it’s about fifteen minutes too long. There’s an awful amount of messing around at the end where you’re thinking “just get on with it”, and the film commits the cardinal sin of teasing us with a payoff that would have been perfectly sufficient as the proper ending.
A lot of the jokes rest on how well the viewer is familiar with the traits of the American college system, specifically the habits and rituals of fraternities and I can see a lot of jokes missing the mark as a result of this. Lastly, the story doesn’t have anything near the emotional weight that Pixar are capable of, and that’s the biggest disappointment. It feels as if Pixar animated a Dreamworks script.
Whilst not a complete disaster, ‘Monsters University’ marked the third Pixar film to underwhelm in a row, following on from ‘Cars 2’ and ‘Brave’. This was incredibly disappointing for a company that had such a tight reign on their quality control, but they can’t all be perfect!