Well I think we can safely forget about Brave and consider it a blip on Pixar’s mainly shining CV of filmmaking excellence. Here they are, back with a bunch of characters who are pretty much the best characters they’ve created with a prequel to one of their best loved films. Monsters University is a return to form for the studio who has struggled recently with Brave, Cars 2 and the frankly alarming prospect of Finding Dory. Instead of showing what happens after laughter is discovered to be much more efficient than screams, Monsters University tells the story of the beginning of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully’s (John Goodman) relationship. Starting out as freshmen Scare Students, they quickly become rivals as it becomes obvious their approaches to their classes are radically different. To prove himself as a Scarer, Mike finds a band of misfits (the Oozma Kappa fraternity) to join his team and prove the terrifying Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), and the rest of the university, wrong.
Overall this is a wonderful film and definitely on par with Monsters Inc (thank goodness), but one of the best things about it is getting to see the main characters as their younger selves, and how rivalries and friendships are created. Mike’s first roommate is an unexpected and hilarious surprise, all things considered, and the beginning of a certain rivalry focussed on in Monsters Inc is a brilliantly funny moment. But the best part about the film is the additional characters not seen before, who provide some of the best moments. The mother of one character has one of the funniest scenes – it will put people in serious amounts of pain it’s that funny – and the rest of the film is almost a laugh a minute. It’s great fun to watch and a relief after a bit too much disappointment from this studio. The score is worth a mention because it lives up to the previous score despite the lack of the brilliant “If I Didn’t Have You.” Along with the cliched (but quite good) college score, there’s a great jazzy side which makes an appearance in the middle of the film. It brings an extra dimension of fun to the film and keeps the score relevant to Monsters Inc.
It’s great to see Pixar back on form after those past disappointments, of which we shan’t speak of again. Granted, it would have taken a feat of stupidity to mess up these characters, but it’s such a relief to see them back and on such good form. Sure, they haven’t been as innovative as they were with their predecessor, and nothing will ever top the chase through the doors, but with a world as brilliant as this they don’t need to because it carries itself without any issues. This is a great addition to the Monsters Inc and Pixar world and one which justifies Pixar making sequels and prequels to their films.
Monsters University hits cinemas 12th July 2013.
DIRECTOR: DAN SCANLON
WRITER: DAN SCANLON, ROBERT L. BAIRD, DANIEL GERSON
STARS: BILLY CRYSTAL, JOHN GOODMAN, STEVE BUSCEMI, HELEN MIRREN, SEAN HAYES, DAVE FOLEY, TYLER LABINE, CHARLIE DAY, ALFRED MOLINA, PETER SOHN, JOEL MURRAY, NATHAN FILLION, AUBREY PLAZA, BILL HADER, JOHN RATZENBERGER
RUNTIME: 105 MINS APPROX