Damn it, Pixar. Wasn’t Cars 2 enough evidence to stop making sequels and prequels and to keep pumping out original stories? Now, you’ve taken the Monsters, Inc. franchise and officially soiled it. The original was great. It didn’t need to have a prequel, especially one that turns out to be as dull as Monsters University is. The characters appear as bored as the audience, and there is no emotional payoff at all. It’s as if a drought hit Monstropolis, sucking the monster world dry of any humor or fun that the original delivered so well. While it may have something to do with newcomer Dan Scanlon stepping up to direct, it may also just be an idea that only worked once.
Since he was young, one-eyed wonder Mike Wazowski(Billy Crystal) has always wanted to be a ‘scarer,’ a monster whose job is to scare the living shit out of children so that the entire monster world can have power. Just think of a really messed up electric company, and you’ve got Monsters Inc. But with all dream careers, the best way to get there is to go to college, and in the monster world, this is no different. Mike heads to Monsters University, where he meets James Sullivan(John Goodman), a master ‘scarer’ and his future best friend. What begins as a heated, even hateful rivalry turns into a friendship that will not only change their lives, but also leave a mark on the hallowed halls of Monsters University forever.
Monsters, Inc was fresh. Monsters University attempts to bring something new to the table, but ultimately fails to deliver. While there are some enjoyable interactions between Mike and Sully, most of the characters in this movie will be forgotten as viewers are leaving the theater. The movie attempts to do quite a bit, including effectively convey the growing friendship between the two protagonists. While there is a heartfelt moment towards the end, most of the film lacks a soul. It’s definitely a giant step down for Pixar, whose fall from greatness may be imminent if the creative minds there don’t step up their game and crank out a good movie.
The film’s feeble and uninspired attempts at humor grow tiring after about thirty minutes, and I swear I heard people groaning in the theater as everything was wrapping up. It’s disheartening, because I wanted to love this movie. The voice cast returns, the animation is flawless, and all the right chess pieces are on the board. Unfortunately, the hand moving them is hesitant, unsure, and lacks skill, resulting in a film that is mediocre at best and absolutely unbearable at worst.
All in all, Monsters University is garbage, saved from being atrocious only by several shining moments of genius that are fleeting but appreciated by viewers who have to sit through it. Pixar, I’m begging you: please don’t touch Up, Ratatouille, or The Incredibles. I might give up on film if you do.
1 out of 5 stars