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Monsters University


Monsters_University_poster

Monsters, Inc. garnered such adoration for its imaginative premise and endlessly lovable characters—if you don’t like Boo, you’re a soulless, shell of a human being and should be ashamed of yourself! Its long-awaited sequel, Monsters University, does not boast a unique premise, nor are there as many memorable characters (beyond Mike and Sully). However, this does not signal a drop in imagination; you just have to pay attention to find it.

Grade:

B+

University focuses more closely on Mike’s (Billy Crystal) determination and lifelong goal to become a scarer. He is slowed in this goal when a spat with Sully (John Goodman) gets them kicked out of the scaring concentration at Monsters University. The only hope for success is to win the Scare Games, and prove the hardened Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) wrong.

As is Pixar’s nature, the details of University stand out above all else. The ways in which the typical college life plays out—minus drugs and sex—are expertly adapted to the lifestyle of monsters. From the clubs to the classes and everything in between, University gives a fairly accurate depiction of the first few days on campus for a freshman.

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When you’re not noticing the similarities to human college, you’re busy looking at all the different monsters these magical animators have concocted. The tentacles, horns, sharp teeth, tails, eyes (numerous or solo), and other creepy-crawley features come out in abundance. You almost wish the monsters were shown on display so you could see each one’s delicate qualities.

In particular, Dean Hardscrabble is a force to be reckoned with. The intricacies of her dragon/millipede aesthetic are incredible. Mixed with the realistic sound effects given to her legs, you get that chill crawling up the back of your neck each time she’s on screen. Harkening back to how revolutionary Sully was when he first appeared, Hardscrabble is a testament to Pixar’s devotion to excellence in character animation.

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Once you’ve adapted to the Pixar standard of animation, the story continues in a fairly typical manner. Mike and Sully are combatants, then bitter teammates, and finally the match-made-in-heaven we know and love. Additionally, the progression of the Scare Games follows the standard cycle for collegiate films with your underdog victory, miracle victory, and so on and so forth. There is nothing new in this regard, but this is rendered a moot point because we’re dealing with monsters trying to scare people, not horny coeds trying to lose their virginity.

Speaking of coeds, the female presence in University is shockingly scarce, and would have been worse had a last minute change not been made. The overly masculine nature of the film turned out to have little effect thanks to the incredible persona occupied by Hardscrabble’s look and Mirren’s voice. If it weren’t for her though, there would have been zero main female characters, and only one or two side characters with relevant screen time. Considering the impact of Boo and Mike’s girlfriend, along with Roz in Inc., the absence of a female lead was a curious decision.

In any case, University is not Inc., but it is an entertaining film that I highly enjoyed, even if the music was shockingly similar to a certain Monty Python song regarding semen’s importance in our world. Mike and Sully are at their best here, and really that’s all that matters. They’re the beloved characters and their reputations aren’t tarnished here. So, I consider University a success and recommend seeing it.

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