For anyone who has followed sports since they were young you recognize when your athletic hero is starting to lose their skills. He/she is a little slower, a little less prolific in scoring, a little quicker to tire out. Sure, they still have flashes of what made them the best, but they come less often. It’s a hard moment when you realize this – especially if you are the same age as the athlete who’s “getting old.” I mention this because Pixar feels like that athlete. They produced outstanding films for so many years it felt like it would go on forever. Like that athlete, though, they couldn’t keep producing at that ridiculously excellent level forever. Whether it’s the loss of too many creative people to their own endeavors, or the acquisition by Disney (“hey, let’s release direct to video sequels in the theaters” – Cars 2 and Planes – “and make another Disney princess” – Brave), but Pixar just doesn’t seem to have “it” like they used to.
Now that’s not to say that they make horrible movies. It is only in comparison with their earlier efforts that the most recent films feel like they are a little less than what was hoped for. That’s the way I see them, at least. Both Up and Toy Story 3 were five star movies for me. That’s not a rating I give out very often (maybe once or twice a year.) In comparison, the three star Cars 2 and Brave (and yes,
) feel like they could have been better, but are still worth seeing if you like what they present on screen. Monsters University
For anyone old enough to have seen 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, this is basically an animated version of that. Since John Goodman (voice of Sully) was in that film, too, I guess it is fitting.
is also filled with lots of references to college life, which makes it something that might lose the younger kids. There was a very young girl wandering around my theater, bored out of her skull. Thankfully, she kept quiet. And thankfully for her parents who were not watching her, no one tried anything with her. Monsters University
The movie has a pretty standard story where Mike and Sully don’t like each other at first, but have to learn to work together to succeed. This primarily comes with the Scare Games competition among the fraternities/sororities and then the events that follow. While I chuckled here and there, I really didn’t laugh as much at this one as I did at Monsters, Inc. In fact, I would almost call
a drama. The dramatic elements of the story were much more effective than the comedic ones. Monsters University
This doesn’t mean there are not fun moments. We see the villain from the first film as a nerdy college freshman in this one. We get cameos from Roz and the Yeti from the first film. The latter also features an in joke for Cheers fans since John Ratzenberger voices the Yeti. Since Billy Crystal voices Mike there is also an in joke for fans of The Princess Bride when we hear Mike talking in his sleep. And while it’s not the “blooper reel” we used to get with early Pixar films, there is another scene after the credits.
You may play a guessing game with the voices while you are watching this. Just about every character is performed by someone that might sound familiar to you, whether it’s Helen Mirren as the Dean, Steve Buscemi once again as Randall, Nathan Fillion as the leader of the coolest fraternity on campus, Sean Hayes and Dave Foley as a two headed monster, Alfred Molina as a professor, Aubrey Plaza as a goth monster, and many more like John Krasinski, Julia Sweeney, Bonnie Hunt, etc.
If you liked Monsters, Inc. and want to spend more time with Mike and Sully then by all means see this film. Just don’t be expecting it to re-create the magic of the first one. If you are just looking for a way to keep your little kids occupied for a couple hours then this may or may not do the trick. If you like Pixar in general, just be aware that this film is more on par with their last two and not some of their earlier gems. For everyone else, if this film sounds interesting then I recommend you give it a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars