06/10/2013 08:45 | By Simon Thompson, Contributor, MSN Movies

Monsters University: Movie Review

Mike and Sulley are back in Monsters University but will the prequel top the original?


We awarded Monsters University with an impressive five stars

Release date: July 12
Certificate: U
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Nathan Fillion, Steve Buscemi
Director: Dan Scanlon

What’s the story?
It’s the story of how Mike and Sulley met at Monsters University, how they became best friends and how they almost lost it all!

What did we think?
Disney Pixar have a hit and miss record with sequels - for every Toy Story 3 there is a Cars 2. Very rarely do the San Francisco based animation giants drop the ball but when they do, whether you are a child or a big kid, you know it and you feel it - your heart sinks. The great news is  that this couldn’t be further from the dropped ball scenario as Monsters University is an absolute gem of a movie and more than earns a place on the shelf marked ‘Classic’. Throughout the entire film I was wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear – this is 110 minutes of pure joy.


It’s been 12 years since we first met Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan and, rather bravely but entirely understandably, instead of moving the story of their friendship forward, director Dan Scanlon and his team have decide to give us an origins story and take us right back to Mike’s childhood.

We get to see Mike as the monster that no-one wants to buddy up with for a school trip to the Scare Floor at Monsters Incorporated. That’s were Mike decides he wants to be a Scarer and kicks off a chain of events that see him enrolling in Monsters University and where he meets Sulley. The Sulley we meet here is an arrogant ‘jock’ resting on his laurels because the Sullivan family have legendary Scarer status.

"It is impossible to resist absolutely loving the new characters"

While Mike studies hard to try and make the grade, Sulley coasts along, failing classes and hanging out with his fraternity buddies in Roar Omega Roar. They couldn’t be more different and couldn’t be further from friends both looking down on each other. However, an accident in class and their subsequent removal from the programme by Dean Hardscrabble, voiced deliciously by Helen Mirren, forces them to put their differences aside and make a deal with her – if they enter the Scare Games and win, they get to stay in school but if they lose, they pack  their bags and that is the end of their time at Monsters University and possibly their careers as Scarers.

This is where the fun really begins as they have no choice but to put their differences aside and create a team to enter the games.

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Would you like to go and see Monsters University?

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With Sulley’s failure leading to him being booted out of Roar Omega Roar, the only option is for them to enlist the members of a fraternity house of rejects, Oozma Kappa, and try to turn them from underdogs to top dogs and saving their futures. Although this film is

"There is more than enough here to entertain whatever your age is"

mostly about the friendship between Mike and Sully, it is the Oozma Kappa crowd that really add the heart and hilarity to Monsters University - Don Carlton is ex-salesman turned mature student looking to learn scaring and ‘the computers’; Scott "Squishy" Squibbles is a child-like 18-year-old five-eyed jelly-like monster who still lives with his mum... because his mum’s house is also the frat house; Art is furry, purple ‘weird guy’ plus Terri and Terry Perry who are bickering four-armed siamese brothers.

The brilliance is that we all know people like these guys, or we’ve at least met them at some point in our life, and there’s probably a bit of all of them in all of us - that’s why it is impossible to resist absolutely loving them. Introducing new characters into a franchise, and especially when they are such a big part of a movie, is always a risk but this really couldn’t have been handled any better and compliments Mike and Sully’s schtick perfectly.

There is a very different feel to Monster Inc here with cutesy Boo replaced by comedy and also some ‘real life’ social messages that totally avoid being patronising or preachy thanks to some really quite brilliant script work - the fact that they sit so comfortably together is a testament to the great skills of all involved in the movie.

The filmmakers also have a big sandpit to play in as the four walls of the Monsters Inc give way to the broad campus canvas of Monsters University and they use every inch of it.

Whether you’re after humour, exciting action sequences or a pantomime baddie, there is more than enough here to entertain whatever your age is. As far as they 3D goes, not seeing it in 3D won’t affect your enjoyment at all – this a great looking movie in any dimension.

You just need to see Monsters University. And then see it again.

Five stars

Verdict: The irresistible Monsters University has a huge heart and is, without a doubt, 100% classic Pixar. Fast, fun and somehow managing to improve on the original film with first class honours, this is visually stunning, crammed with belly laughs and it is impossible not to love every wonderful second of it.
 

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