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Monsters University: movie review (rated G)

Monsters University, the prequel to the popular 2001 hit, shows how those champion Scarers Mike and Scully first met.

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Monsters University

Monsters University Image: Courtesy Disney/Pixar


It’s not easy to follow a monsterpiece. Pixar’s 2001 classic Monsters, Inc. featured such heartfelt and hilarious performances by Billy Crystal and John Goodman and so many different layers of humor, that it remains fresh and surprising even after dozens of DVD viewings. The new prequel Monsters University, which shows how those champion Scarers Mike and Sully first met, is amusing and features impressive 3D animation, but with performances from the leads that seemed phoned in, and wan supporting characters (there’s no Boo!), it leaves you pining for the original.

In Monsters University, we meet Mike and Sully in their college days, where they compete for spots in MU’s prestigious Scarer program—monsters who don’t make the cut get stuck building doors or handling scare cans. Sully arrives on campus as a popular jock, getting by on his massive size, monstrous fangs and family name (Dad was a famous Scarer). Tiny Mike Wazowski, who’s about as naturally scary as a fluffy pink panda, compensates for his cuteness by studying harder than Hermione Granger and using his wiles to outwit the frat boys and bullies. Mike and Sully start out as rivals, but eventually realize that by teaming up, they can become the stuff of scaring legend.

There are plenty of college high-jinks along the way, especially when the boys join up with the lovable losers of Oozma Kappa to compete in the campus-wide Scare Games. In fact, parents will be counting the references to Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, even Carrie (don’t worry—this flick is firmly rated G). The only potentially frightening character is the imperious Professor Hardscrabble, a cross between a bat and a scorpion. A sequence in which the monsters swell up after being stung by jellyfish-like creatures—scary to parents!— actually elicited the biggest laughs from the kids in the audience, and a later scene in a (human) summer camp shows kids that eerie noises and objects that move on their own are nothing more than the shenanigans of two cute monsters. In the end, it’s the anti-scary movie.

There are worthwhile lessons about teamwork, honesty, and the importance of working hard for your dreams (the ending takes a rather unexpected twist), but instead of being inspired to watch Monsters University again, we were eager to go home and re-watch the brilliant original. We missed you, Boo.

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Release details

Rated: G

US release:
2013

Duration:
110 mins 

Cast and Crew

Director:
Dan Scanlon

Voices: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Jennifer Tilly

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