Monsters University (2013)
Starring: John Goodman, Billy Crystal (voice talents)
Years before Mike Wazowski (Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (Goodman) were legends on the Scaring Floor, they were college classmates at Monsters University. Mike had wanted to become a scarer his entire life, but scaring didn’t exactly come naturally him. Sully, on the other hand, was born to a great line of scarers. He had it in his blood. At Monsters U, Mike and Sully are set at odds, becoming rivals in the scaring program early on in their college careers. But the two become unlikely allies when they head up an underdog crew of frat boys for the upcoming MU “Scare Games” – a fraternity-style tournament to determine the best scarers on campus.
The Story: There aren’t a whole lot of good prequels out there. “Monsters University” makes the story work. Starting off with a young Mike and his dreams of one day attending college is something that is easily relatable to anyone old enough to read this review. Watching Mike and Sully’s rivalry (and eventual friendship) develop is fun and the college setting is a blast. It’s funny from start to finish, but there is a deep, emotional tone to the story, as well, and Pixar pulls it off fantastically well.
The Acting: The legend of Mike and Sully lives on. How Billy Crystal and John Goodman don’t sound a day older than they did in “Monsters, Inc.” back in 2001 is beyond the Salt Lake City DVD Examiner. They’re still funny, still charming, and they do a great job of bringing their monsters to life. The other characters in the movie are equally adorable and provide a lovable cast of classmates and staff.
The Genre: The attention to detail at the university is amazing. The Pixar crew does an amazing job of incorporating cliche college traditions to create something that is not only believable, but simultaneously hilarious. In typical Pixar fashion, they’ve made another movie that can be enjoyed by children and adults, including the slapstick comedy so typical of animated, G-rated movies with embedded college humor that will appeal to 20-somethings on up. Additionally, the soundtrack is spectacular! The drumline and brass section gives the film a “College Gameday”/marching band feel that absolutely fits right in with the collegiate atmosphere.
Pixar has become a powerhouse of family films in the last two years. They’ve set an incredibly high bar for themselves with the “Toy Story” trilogy, “Finding Nemo,” and “Monsters, Inc.”, to name a few. “Monsters, Inc.” was very good. There’s no doubt about that. But “Monsters University” is even better. The movie still takes place in the monster world, but setting the movie in such a human-like atmosphere was a stroke of genius. The college setting provides, practically, non-stop humor in one way or another. Crystal and Goodman are an incredible team and their supporting cast of fraternity brothers are a great addition. Visually, “Monsters U” is gorgeous – especially in HD – and, at this point, we shouldn’t expect anything less from Pixar. With TONS of awesome bonus features and the knowledge that you and your kids and your grandkids will be watching this movie for years and years to come, “Monsters University” is a scary good movie that you will definitely get your money’s worth out of. “Monsters U” should be at the top of the list of Blu-rays that you need to buy as soon as possible and will undoubtedly make a great present as the 2013 holiday season approaches.
Similar movies: “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), “Sydney White” (2007), “Toy Story 3” (2010)
Blu-ray bonus features:
– Audio in: English, French, Spanish, English Descriptive Audio
– Subtitles in: English, French, Spanish
– “Campus Life”: A day in the life of the Pixar crew. Who in their right mind would not love that job?
– “Story School”: A fun look at the process of creating the story behind “Monsters University.”
– “Scare Games”: The folks at Pixar had their own “Scare Games” at work to help inspire the CGI games in the movie.
– “Monthropology”: College is all about diversity. And Pixar created enough monsters to fill an entire campus. Take a look at how they were able to do it.
– “Welcome to MU”: How the Pixar team took classic American architecture and personal experiences at college to create their own, lovable university.
– “Music Appreciation”: Randy Newman being Randy Newman.
– “Scare Tactics”: Meet the animators and actors involved in developing the scaring scenes.
– “Color and Light”: How color and light help illustrate the “visual script” of the movie.
– “Paths to Pixar: MU Edition”: “If you work hard enough, it will always work out all the time.” …right? Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way we want it to. Rejection is part of life, but everything does always work out somehow. Take it from Pixar.
– “Furry Monsters: a Technical Retrospective”: There are 250 furry monsters in “Monsters U”… which is just a couple more than there were in the original “Monsters” movie – and that was a hairy challenge to tackle.
– Four deleted scenes with an introduction by director Don Scanlon
– Promo Picks: “Monsters Mash Up,” “College Campaign” (three college-centered promotional ads), “Theatrical Campaign” (four theatrical trailers)
– Four set flythroughs (campus, Scare School, Frat Row, and the OK house)
– Art Gallery (characters, color keys, development art, environments, graphics)
Directed by: Don Scanlon
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
Running time: 104 minutes
MPAA rating: G for general audiences. Nothing inherently offensive, but some college humor and several characters and situations that might frighten young children.
Costars Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina (voice talents)
Blu-ray release date: October 29, 2013
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