In typical Disney Pixar fashion, “Monsters University” is a coming-of-age story that shows how terrifying college is, especially when you’re surrounded by monsters that major in scaring.
The prequel to “Monsters, Inc.” looks at a little Mike Wazowski and how he decided to become a scarer. It all started on a school field trip to Monsters, Inc., where a tiny, bullied and ignored Wazowski sees scaring first-hand after sneaking onto the scare floor. From that day on, Wazowski works hard to prove that he can be a scarer. He thinks he can achieve that when he goes to school at Monsters University.
All of that goes into jeopardy when legacy scarer James P. Sullivan, or Sully, comes in to the same beginning scaring class. Under threat of expulsion from the scare school if they fail the beginning class, Wazowski studies every scare tactic he can find, while Sully relies on his family flair to get him through the class. Wazowski, a know-it-all, and Sully, a natural talent, compete for the class’s top rank through the semester, but to no avail. Both Wazowski and Sully are kicked out of the school by Dean Hardscrabble after getting caught trying to out-scare each other in the final, out of turn.
The only way Hardscrabble will consider allowing Wazowski and Sully back into the school is if they can create a team for the Scare Games – which could be a cooler, more death-defying Greek Week – and win. If they lose, Wazowski and Sully have to leave Monsters U. When Wazowski and Sully team up with the reject monster fraternity, Hardscrabble and the rest of the school think they’ll be rid of the rejects forever, but Wazowski and Sully won’t give up their hard work or legacy so easily.
Although the story of how Sully and Wazowski eventually become friends is the main focus on character development in “Monsters University,” the side characters are some of the most interesting in Disney and Pixar’s recent work, especially when looking at the monster fraternities and sororities.
Of course, there is a group of pretty-in-pink sorority monsters who seem sweet until they flash their laser eyes at their enemies. The No. 3 team is a stereotypically goth sorority, atypical of sororities but awesome nonetheless. The favorites to win the Scare Games are in-your-face frat stereotypes of the house ROR. Watching their moves in the games, it’s easy to see why these jocks are at the top.
But the most endearing and diverse team is Wazowski and Sully’s: Oozma Kappa. They’re OK. Well, maybe OK is giving them too much credit at first. The brothers of Oozma Kappa consist of an older squid-man who identifies as a sales associate, a two-headed creature who can’t seem to find his bravery, a monster with no legs who’d be better off slacklining than being in a frat and a squishy monster that you can’t see until he’s… right behind you! This ragtag team is what Wazowski and Sully have to rely on to get back into the scare school. The future does not seem hopeful, but what would a Disney movie be if it didn’t offer any hope for the end?
The all-star voice cast returns with original actors Billy Crystal, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. New actors include Aubrey Plaza and John Krasinski as Scare Games MCs. Alfred Molina makes an appearance as a hardcore university professor, and Helen Mirren is the haunting winged Dean Hardscrabble, whose hundreds of legs click along as she paces in front of her scolding victims.
The jokes are a good mix of physical humor – for the younger kids – and word play – for the college kids who want to relate. Screenwriters Robert Baird, Daniel Gerson and Dan Scanlon have perfect timing, using each kind of humor in the appropriate settings.
“Monsters University” is one movie that could give you hope in the middle of finals. Too bad it won’t come out until June 21.
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.email@example.com.