Monsters University sees the first Disney Pixar prequel, we take a peek at Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) in their freshman days at Monsters University and the mayhem that is unleashed as they try to become scarers and get in with the right fraternities. The usually best friends were not always that close and this is the story of them forming that friendship as well as setting up the events for Monsters Inc. This is the perfect summer film for kids and big kids like me, who are experiencing university for themselves.
Sequels and prequels are never expected to be as popular as their originals and with this I was pleasantly surprised, there is just enough humour, a good amount of foreshadowing and a strong enough storyline for the film to carry itself. It is possible to watch Monsters University and not have any previous knowledge of Monsters Inc. which is great for the younger viewer.
It is excellent to see everyone return for the film, John Goodman and Billy Crystal are on great form, folding back to the roles as if they never left. Their chemistry is as good as ever and it is interesting to see their characters almost hate each other as the film begins. Steve Buscemi is great as a naive, young Randall who unfortunately turns into the monster we know by the end of the film. John Ratzenberger’s cameo as the Abominable Snowman is very small but is an extra treat for fans of the original film. A newcomer to the franchise is Helen Mirren as the terrifying Dean Hardscrabble who manages to scare her pupils and everyone else with her straight laced demeanour and unbeaten scream record. I didn’t realsie it was her to begin with which is testament to how good she is. Hardscrabble is the villain of the film which works perfectly. Every student had that one teacher who pushed them, it is exactly what would matter to an eighteen year old monster. The monsters of Oozma Kappa, the lowest frat house on the popularity scale that is run from the house of one of the member’s mums, provides a lot of laughs. They are all so individual and wacky and have resigned themselves to being at the bottom, with the help of Mike and Sulley they hope to climb that social ladder.
The beauty of Monsters University is that it works as an origin story but also as an almost teen coming of age story. The initiations into the fraternities are funny and original and delightfully reflect the American university experience with a bit of added monster. A highlight was seeing Mike Wazowski, yes I did have to look up how to spell it, as a little monster. Constantly being overlooked and undervalued but still determined to become a scarer. His eye literally covers half of his little face. There was a collective ‘awww’ in the cinema when we saw him.
Overall Monsters University is much better than expected, it is funny, heart warming and completely refreshing. It ends very tidily and isn’t too over the top, in a weird way it is almost realistic. A delight for both children and their parents.