Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Monsters University - Review


Director: Dan Scanlon Writers: Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Dan Scanlon Studios: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Nathan Fillion, Steve Buscemi Release Date (UK): 12 July 2013 Certificate: U Runtime: 104 min

In “Monsters University,” studios Disney and Pixar pay a grand revisit to the world of workaday boogeymen first brought to the big screen twelve long years ago in the wonderfully inventive computer-animated hit “Monsters, Inc.,” where the monsters in our closets were revealed to be harvesting our screams of terror to power their city. A belated prequel to that 2001 gem, this delightfully witty and thoroughly engaging follow-up transports us back to the college years of future best buds Mike Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, who before becoming the top scare team at the Monsters, Inc. factory were enrolled at the prestigious Monsters University with the same determined goal: to become the biggest scarer in all of Monstropolis.

Once again voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman respectively, the walking, talking, hopelessly neurotic eyeball and blue-furred gentle giant initially clash heads in the institution's famous “scare program”: Mike is the brainy, unscary nerd with his eye always buried in a textbook while Sulley is the jockish party animal skating along on natural talent (and his loud, ferocious growl). When their classroom bickering goes one step too far and sees them unexpectedly booted from the program, the collegiate rivals decide to join forces along with a ragtag fraternity of misfits to win the annual Scare Games in a bid to prove to the tyrannical, dragon-winged, centipede-legged Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren, “Hitchcock”) that they truly are scarers worthy of MU.

Along the way are the expected nods and winks to coming events seen in the previous film — Steve Buscemi’s slithering future-nemesis Randall is greeted with a villainous music cue before he’s cheekily revealed to be a nervous dweeb — but unlike most tampering movie prequels, this leaves little to snarl at as it seamlessly expands upon the universe and character backstory of the first film while standing mightily on its own two furry feet. Writer-director Dan Scanlon and co-writers Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird have fun in paying homage to other, more adult-oriented campus comedies — older viewers will be reminded of the likes of “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds” — while filling the screen with colourful characters sporting jagged fangs and multiple heads.

Messages about the values of teamwork and honesty are touching and well delivered, but where the film’s throbbing heart truly lies is in the growing central relationship between Mike and Sulley, whose bromance blossoms once the Scare Games begin and whose friendship in the original “Monsters, Inc.” is enriched rather than spoiled by this heartfelt and often hilarious origin tale — that is, after all, what prequels are supposed to do, aren’t they? Worries that Pixar had lost their way following the clunky mechanics of the needless “Cars 2” should now be well and truly dispelled: this, alongside their enchanting 2012 feature “Brave,” helps recrown the computer animation company as the undisputed kings of American animation.

Rating: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Metacritic Score: 64/100
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

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