Perhaps it’s best to quit holding high expectations for Pixar.
The movie house, now a subsidiary of Walt Disney Co., built an animated empire pixel by pixel with instant classics such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc.
Now, however, it seems that their creative well is slowly but surely drying up. In Monsters University, they go the sequel route once again and the result is a tad bit on the boring side.
An initial reaction: why did they feel the need to make a prequel to this film?
That’s not good considering it was the first impression I acknowledged while watching Cars 2. Of course, the folks at Pixar had much more solid ground for MU – it’s at least derived from a classic. Cars? Not so much.
But that’s beside the point because unless the movie is well executed and compelling in its own right, there’s nothing that will give it the charm it needs to succeed.
The problem with Monsters University is that it’s a prequel driven by the belief that the monsters – Sully (voice by John Goodman) and Mike (voice by Billy Crystal) were the most interesting part of the original when in fact they were two pieces of a triad that made that movie so endearing and special.
There’s no Boo, the little girl who sneaked into the monster world, to be cute, cuddly and set Mike and Sully up for some of their funniest lines. She also provided many of the “awwww” moments that permeated the film.
Director-writer Dan Scanlon seems to have forgotten that in trying to re-create the magic associated with Monsters Inc. because the audience is given a story of how Mike and Sully met that is filled with predictable plot twists and clichés.
They first get a gander of one another at Monsters University where they are both enrolled in the prestigious scarer program in the hopes of earning the right to sneak into children’s rooms to scare the heck out of them.
But being barely out of high school, they have their issues. Sully comes from a long line of scarers and tries to live off of his name. Sully is the classic over-achiever who knows the answers, but lacks that certain something to put everything together. They don’t like one another and it shows. An argument between the two eventually causes them to be booted from the program.
They soon find themselves outcast with the uncool fraternity on campus and battling in an Olympic-style scare games event which puts their very futures at Monsters University on the line.
MU has moments – few – but there are some there and there are messages for the young ones to latch on to, but for adults looking for something to chew on, forget it.
Scanlon & Co. provide little for older members of the audience, those who’d remember being afraid of things that go bump in the night and, of course, monsters that pop out of closets.
That may be the ultimate disappointment in Monsters University.
Movie: Monsters University
Director: Dan Scanlon
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren
Studio: Walt Disney Co./Pixar
Rated: G (suitable for all audiences)
Running time: 110 minutes
George’s rating: 3-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com