Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren
Directed by: Dan Scanlon (debut)
Written by: Daniel Gerson (“Monster’s Inc.”), Robert L. Baird (debut), Dan Scanlon (debut)
Twelve years ago, Pixar introduced us to the charismatic one-eyed monster, Mike Wazowski, and his ginormous polka-dotted buddy, Sulley, in “Monsters Inc.” Set 10 years before their epic adventure with Boo, its prequel, “Monsters University,” prevails in both charm and humor. Simply put: It’s just so darn cute, it’ll make you want to grab your best friend and give them a monster-sized cuddle.
In “Monsters University,” the origin story of how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) came to be pals takes center stage with a trip back in time to their college days. We quickly discover that it wasn’t always happy times for the BFF’s. In fact, they detested each other their first semester in college.
Their constant bickering finally blows up in their face when they are kicked out of the elite Scaring Program on campus after impulsively breaking out into a fight, right smack in the middle of their final exam. Catching the undesirable attention of stern and intimidating Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), Mike and Sulley are forced to change their majors and say goodbye to their long desired dream to become professional scarers.
Mike’s lifelong aspirations, however, keep him from giving up. He optimistically enters the Scare Games, an Olympics-style team competition on campus, in hopes of being crowned “Best Scarer on Campus.” With one more shot to prove his worthiness, Dean Hardscrabble agrees to let him back into the program if he can clinch the title but not before he is forced to team up with the nerdy misfits of Oozma Kappa, the only fraternity on campus that will have him, and his enemy, Sulley, who fills in as the sixth required fraternity member.
With an impeccable cast, every actor effortlessly lends their voice to the animated characters, making the ensemble irresistibly entertaining. Its heartwarming storyline is likely to put a smile on everyone’s face no matter what age, especially with its inspiring message of friendship and finding the inspiration to overcome life’s obstacles.
“Monsters University” is flawlessly animated with striking and vivid colors, making every scene pleasurable to watch. With its bright and intricate details, take heed in knowing there is no reason to purchase a 3-D ticket. Despite the many off-the-wall activities the Scare Games demand the fraternities and sororities complete before going onto the next round, nothing is added to the movie watching experience in a 3-D format.
Even though the film might not be able to make you tear up like “Toy Story 3,” director Dan Scanion saves it from becoming another Pixar misstep like “Cars 2.” With its crazy antics, memorable characters and rambunctious comedy, “Monsters University” delivers a satisfying G-rated film the entire family will enjoy.