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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Monsters University (SIFF 2013) - Movie Review



Disney and Pixar studios are back again with what they hope will be yet another box office hit with Monsters University which reunites Billy Crystal and John Goodman as everyone's favorite scary characters along with Helen Mirren, and Aubrey Plaza. Dan Scanlon takes his first stab at putting together an animated feature while teaming up with Monsters Inc and Cars writers Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird.


Before Mike and Sulley became top notch scarers at Monsters Inc., they both attended Monsters University as two students on completely different paths but heading towards the same goal. Mike Wazowski (Crystal) has dreamt of becoming an employee of Monsters Inc. ever since a field trip to the famous facility showed him a new world that he just had to become a part of. With a hard and fast goal in place, the young boy monster grew into an aspiring college student who is more determined than ever. Even if no one else believes he has what it takes.


James P. Sullivan (Goodman), on the other hand, comes from a long line of scare school graduates and has all the tools needed to carry on the family tradition. Unfortunately, his focus is on having a good time instead of putting in the work it takes to be successful in one of Monstropolis' most demanding professions. After a few missteps land him in a frat house filled with outcasts, the monster known as Sulley finds himself paired up as roommates with an unlikely companion with a short, circular, and very strange one-eyed creature named Mike.


With unfortunate events piling up against this unlikely duo, Mike and Sulley find themselves kicked out of scare school and with one last chance to redeem themselves. They must find a way to lead their Oozma Kappa fraternity misfits through a grueling, winner-take-all campus competition called the Scare Games. The intimidating Dean Hardscrabble (Miren), who invented the competition during her days as a student, has agreed to reinstate the long shot entrants, but if they do not win, they must leave Monsters University forever.


One thing you will always get from a Pixar feature is a story that combines lots of action and laughs with a truly heartfelt story and tops it all off with some of the best animation you could ever lay your eyes on. Monsters University definitely holds up to that standard as you once again find yourself right in the middle of Mike and Sulley's crazy adventures although you get to see how the inseparable pair everyone fell in love with in Monsters Inc. didn't always get along as well as they do now. There is so much packed into the nearly two hour run time, its pretty amazing how the writing team is able to keep it all on track.


When Monsters Inc. first came out way back in 2001, the Pixar team of animators was literally inventing a lot of the technology they continue to use and improve upon each and every day. What is most amazing is the sheer volume of stuff Pixar is able to put on a movie screen and it all contains so many vibrant colors and beautiful textures, you could just get lost in the awesomeness of it all. They also manage to keep a precise balance between going too far into the realm of photorealism and maintaining the colorfully stylized world of Monstropolis. Every Pixar feature manages to push the boundaries of what can be achieved visually and Monsters University is clearly no exception to this rich tradition that Disney and Pixar has established.


If you are looking for a movie that will be thoroughly entertaining for the whole family then look no farther than Monsters University. Billy Crystal and John Goodman pick up right where they left off as Mike and Sulley respectively and its just a blast watching how their characters first got to know each other and how they had such a profound impact on each other's lives right from the start. The one thing I am most happy about with this movie is Pixar's return to putting out top notch material after their last two features didn't quite live up to the lofty standard they have set for themselves. Here's hoping they can stay on track and will keep delivering memorable experiences for years to come.

Also, check out our review of the short film The Blue Umbrella which was directed by Pixar veteran Saschka Unseld and will show in front of Monsters University during its theatrical run.


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