It's June 21, summer is officially here -- and what better way to kick it off than by watching Monsters University! Over 12 years after the original movie, Monsters Inc, made its debut, Disney Pixar is releasing the prequel movie (the first time it has ever made a prequel!) so fans can find out how best buds Mike and Sulley ended up at Monstropolis' top scaring company.
I was invited to an advanced screening of the movie so I've had a bit of time to digest its contents, mull it over.... and head right back into the movie theatre to watch it again! Yes, it was that much fun. It was great to see how Mike and Sulley became best friends despite starting out as rivals in their Monsters U. days.
In fact (Plot description follows! You've been warned!), it's their rivalry that gets them kicked out of the Monsters University Scaring Program, the program Mike has dreamed of entering since he was a little kid. Desperate to avoid settling for the mind-numbingly boring Scare Can Design major, Mike strikes a bargain with Dean Hardscrabble, the Scare School dean -- if he and his Oozma Kappa fraternity brothers can win the annual Scare Games, she has to readmit him into the Scare Program.... but if they don't win, Mike is out of not just the Scare Program but Monsters University. Mike is forced to team up with Sulley and turn a team of misfits (think Revenge of the Nerds, monster style!) into winners. It's a plot made in movie heaven -- but Disney Pixar isn't known for being predictable, so watch out for a twist at the end!
Monsters University, like every Disney Pixar movie, is as much fun for adults as it is for kids, because of all the "inside" jokes that are peppered throughout the movie to amuse and delight the grownups. The movie does a great job of "monsterrizing" the whole college experience, from freshman initiation to club recruitment to rush week to cheerleaders to frat initiations (don't worry parents, no scary stuff!) to cafeteria food to pranks, professors and parties. And as always, there are plenty of visual details to enjoy, if you're sharp enough to spot them (one more reason why it's fun to watch more than once!). Here are some:
* The titles of the college textbooks in the library
* Characters from Monsters Inc (Roz, the Abominable Snowman, Henry J. Waternoose III and Randall Boggs)
* The flyers posted on the campus billboards (you'll see them close-up as the credits roll)
* The extra scene after the very last credit has come up on screen and disappeared.
There are just a few things about the movie that disappointed me:
* The animated short that played before the movie, The Blue Umbrella, was beautifully rendered, but the plot was too similar to the Academy Award-winning short film Paperman, which showed before Wreck-It Ralph.
* I wish there had been a bit more in the movie about Sulley's relationship with his dad, who was a famous scarer -- for example, he could have had a marble bust dedicated to him in the College of Scaring, or his portrait could have been in the Scare Hall of the Roar Omega Roar frat house.
* I wish (Major Plot spoiler follows!!!!) Dean Hardscrabble had given Mike and Sulley a second chance.
Despite those misgivings, I loved the movie and will probably buy it when it comes out on DVD.
Here's a fun trailer of Monsters University you should watch -- and I do mean you should watch it, because it has a few scenes that aren't in the movie!
Disclosure: I received a pair of passes to an advanced screening of Monsters University.. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.