In Animal House meets The Muppets (proving some movies are not the sum of their parts), John Goodman and Billy Crystal are back as Sulley and Mike, but we’re going back in time. Instead of seeing what happened after the events of Monsters, Inc., we are heading back to college (So, this is more like Animal House Meets Muppet Babies).
Mike is the scrawny, brainy school nerd who dreams of becoming a big and powerful scarer, so he studies night and day to fulfill his lifelong dream to be the greatest, scariest monster ever, even though he isn’t all that imposing.
Sulley is the jock and big man on campus who doesn’t work very hard, has everything happen for him without effort and has the love and admiration of many just for existing. He’s a natural at all of this.
The two kind of hate each other.
Of course, these opposites are forced together when an incident almost gets them expelled, and the only chance they have of getting back into the prestigious scarer program is to win the school’s annual Scare Games competition by teaming up with the lamest frat on campus. Winning gets them back into the program. Losing sends them home.
Will these underdogs unite as a team and overcome the odds to show they are more than what appears at first glance?
Didn’t we just see this movie, and it was called The Internship?
You have to wonder if Pixar has turned a dark, frightening corner in its life as a part of Disney. You used to be able to count on a Pixar movie to be amazingly original, smart, fun, and full of thrilling moments that will live on in your heart for decades. Now, we get Cars 2. And, Monsters University.
Sure, the movie is full of some great animation, which seems to mix real film with animated figures and action (or some of the best animated background work you have ever seen in your life).
Some of the picturesque scenes of the Monsters University campus and the hallowed halls of the academic buildings look like they are real scenery. However, beyond the visual, Monsters University just falls into formula and cliché.
Aside from the conclusion (which wasn’t formulaic, but hurts the overall movie and how we feel about everything we just watched), you have seen the plot and results in Monsters University many times before.
The underdogs and nerds have to work together to overcome stereotypes and win acceptance.
There is some sort of big contest with a last minute dramatic moment of victory.
The two people who hate each other become pals as they get to know each other.
It’s all typical stuff that will work for kids, who haven’t seen this story a million times over, but not for many other people, who have seen this story a million times over.
And, the action is just so-so with dialogue a far cry from Monsters, Inc. All of the characters seem a bit neutered without any emotional attachments to each other or the audience, while the physical comedy on screen should do more than just make us giggle.
Monsters University is not horrible, but it’s not memorable, not soaring, not magical, not emotional, and not compelling. It’s not classic Pixar, but I guess classic Pixar no longer exists.
Monsters University is rated G