[Movie Review] ‘Monsters University’ Is Scary Good Fun
The lovable frightsters Mike and Sulley, voiced by Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers) and John Goodman (Rosanne, The Babe) respectively, are back in Disney Pixar’s Monsters University, a candy-colored prequel the 2001 hit Monsters Inc. that explores the origins the unlikely pals’ friendship by taking us all back to school.
Crystal’s Mike is far more innocent and wide-eyed this time when we meet him first as a youngster who is inspired after watching a professional scream collector in action against an actual child. His future path becomes instantly clear and we fast forward to Mike’s first day at the esteemed Monsters University, known for its School of Scaring.
Essentially a small, one-eyed ball with limbs, Mike is not particularly scary to look at, so he has to work harder than anyone else to get into the school, especially James P. “Sulley” Sullivan.
With a huge roar and purple polka dots, Sulley got in presumably on his family name, recognized as iconic scarers. Sulley has never had to work very hard to get to where he’s at, and when it catches up with him the way college tends to catch up on any high school slacker, he’s lost and alone for the first time.
Helen Mirren (The Queen) is terrifyingly cool as the University’s Dean Hardscrabble, a dragon-centipede hybrid that oozes malice as she urges her students to aspire to higher standards. When she threatens to end Mike’s dream, he gets one last chance to prove that he and his fraternity of outcasts can beat her at her own game.
Disgraced after becoming the first Sullivan to be kicked out of Monsters U., Sulley completes the team as their needed fifth member and the fun is on at the annual Scare Games, a Revenge of the Nerds-style competition of various events to prove the best scarers on campus.
Mike and Sulley’s friendship begins as rivals who find a common cause to fight for, but this being a Disney Pixar film you can count on plenty of positive life-affirming lessons learned along the way – the ones we hope our children manage to also take away from their college experiences.
Steve Buscemi (Fargo) reprises his role from the first film as his perfect animated counterpart Randall “Randy” Boggs, who wants to be cool so bad, while looking for love in all the wrong places.
A new group of monsters is introduced in college, but it’s Charlie Day’s (Pacific Rim) fury hippy Art who kept me laughing the most.
Younger kids who missed out on Monsters Inc. should enjoy this new adventure as their own, while original audience members will get a nostalgic joy ride revisiting these old friends at an earlier stage in their lives, and parents get plenty of fun moments to laugh at – including a subtle nod to another classic Crystal comedy The Princess Bride.
In the end, Monsters University reminds us how college can be the scariest place in the world when you’re just trying to follow your dreams, but also the most rewarding when you finally achieve those monstrous goals.
Official Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Monsters University (rated PG) is now playing at R/C KDH Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills and July 12-18 at the Pioneer Theatre in Manteo.