June 8, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Monsters University

By |2018-03-21T18:56:26+01:00July 27th, 2013|Reviews|


Date: 2013

Director: Dan Scanlon

Starring: Voices: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger


et’s face it; kids aren’t the most discerning viewers. They’ll watch anything. Disney Pixar films are universally magical because they redefine animation with beauty and finesse. “Monsters Inc.” (2001) was a chapter in Pixar’s great opus but “Monsters University” is, sadly, a mere footnote.

This rip-roaring prequel looks at how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) first met. Mike, our podgy green ball of little man syndrome, is determined to become a professional “scarer” after falling in love with the art in primary school. Jump forward 10 or so years and his brain-over-brawn attitude lands him a place at the prestigious Monsters University. When he links up with burly star student, Sulley, the unlikely pair is forced to convince demonic Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) that they’re up to the mark.

The imaginative scramble of goofball characters shows the vintage Pixar touch. Squishy (Peter Sohn) pants a gooey path into our hearts, Art (Charlie Day) serenades the screen with his magnetic madness and Johnny Worthington (Nathan Fillion) plays the elitist twerp we love to hate. This wacky microcosm tackles every caricature we’d associate with campus life. The characters are relatable and, crucially, very funny.

However, that’s where the magic ends. It’s great we have a loosy-goosy flow of funny figures but the plot’s just floppy. It follows the run-down formula of overcoming the odds, self-belief and moving beyond mere image. Sure, there’s the good morals side, but it reaches a point where the message takes over the movie. The raucous offering breaches the kid in us yet it’s far too humdrum and predictable to reach any further. It’s a shame for Pixar to offer something so gummy when you consider their weighty record.

Perhaps it’s too harsh to call this lazy, but there’s certainly something lost in this picture. Maybe it’s the wide-reach, maybe it’s the buzz of something new or maybe it’s Pixar losing the test of time.

Nevertheless, tail-wagging children will lap this up. As for adults, this’ll be chewing gum for the mind.

About the Author:

Alexander Penn is a born and bred Londoner currently finishing up his Newspaper Journalism Masters at City University. Spending his student days with East London Italians, he's become at one with their culture and fell in love with Rome when he first visited three years ago. He's a long-time lover of film, particularly the work of Sergio Leone, Federico Fellini and Giuseppe Tornatore. Alexander's had DVD reviews published in national UK paper, The Sun, and continues to ply his passion in his part-time job at an independent cinema.