Rating: 4 out of 5
Pixar revisits the characters from 2001's Monsters, Inc. for a frat-house prequel. Which is kind of an odd setting for a kids' movie. The comedy is more focussed on action sequences than characters this time, so it's not nearly as satisfying. But it's still a lot of fun, thanks to a constant barrage of sharp verbal and visual gags.
When he was just a child, Mike (Crystal) dreamed about becoming a scarer, capturing the screams of human children to provide power to Monstropolis. So he's thrilled when he enters Monsters University, and takes his studies very seriously. By contrast, his roommate Randy (Buscemi) is more interested in partying, while classmate Sulley (Goodman) is lazily coasting on the legacy of his famed scarer dad. Then Mike and Sulley end up on the wrong side of Dean Hardscrabble (Mirren), who gives them one chance to stay in school: they have to win the Scare Games. But the only frat-house that needs them is made up of unscary misfits: nice-guy Dan (Murray), two-headed dimwit Terry/Terri (Hayes/Foley), naive five-eyed Squishy (Sohn) and furry philosopher Art (Day).
We never really doubt where this is going, but the filmmakers have a lot of fun along the way, and the story does take some surprising twists. Essentially, it's the same premise as Glee, with nerdy outcasts banding together to draw on their personal talents and show the cool kids that they're not losers. The script never really develops any of the side characters beyond one key personality trait, but the relationship between Mike and Sulley has a real kick of emotional resonance, superbly well-voiced by Crystal and Goodman. And the bromance between these two is even more enjoyable than all the colourful mayhem and snappy joking around.
The film races from one set-piece to the next, holding our attention with its hyperactive plot and the animators' astonishing attention to detail. The zinging one-liners, subtle visual gags and most of the frat-house humour will go over the heads of kids in the audience, but they'll love the frantic pacing and colourful silliness. And what's most surprising about the film is that it has a relevant message for our times: it may be important to find what we're good at, but we also need to be realistic about our dreams as well as our limitations.
Facts and Figures
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st June 2013
Box Office USA: $268.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $743.6M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 142 Rotten: 40
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: Dan Scanlon
Producer: Kori Rae
Screenwriter: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal as Michael "Mike" Wazowski (voice), John Goodman as James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (voice), Steve Buscemi as Randall Boggs (voice), Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble (voice), Joel Murray as Don Carlton (voice), Peter Sohn as Scott “Squishy” Squibbles (voice), Sean Hayes as Terri Perry (voice), Dave Foley as Terry Perry (voice), Charlie Day as Art (voice), Alfred Molina as Professor Knight (voice), Tyler Labine as Brock Pearson (voice), Nathan Fillion as Johnny Worthington (voice), Aubrey Plaza as Greek Council President (voice), Bobby Moynihan as Chet Alexander (voice), Julia Sweeney as Ms. Squibbles (voice), Bonnie Hunt as Karen Graves (voice), John Krasinski as “Frightening” Frank McCay (voice), Frank Oz as Fungus (voice), Beth Behrs as Carrie Williams (voice), John Ratzenberger as Yeti (voice), Bill Hader as Referee (voice), Bob Peterson as Roz (voice), Noah Johnston as Young Mike (voice)