The year 2013 has been underwhelming when it comes to animated motion pictures. With films such as Epic, they have primarily been generic stories for children. There hasn't been very much of an incentive for the adults who are interested in animation. Pixar has been known to appeal to all ages, but they have been delivering disappointing pieces of work lately. I found Brave and Cars 2 to be sub-par features that have been done far too many times before. Pixar is trying to return back to some major favorites by making sequels and prequels in order to draw audiences to the theaters. Once trailers started being released for Monsters University, I was worried that they would destroy the beloved Monsters, Inc. with creating this prequel. The original film was an exceptional and innovative concept. While Monsters University isn't as impressive as the first feature, it's still a great animated picture.
Mike (Billy Crystal) has always experienced life as the smallest monster in the room. He has been teased since his childhood, but his passion for the scaring industry is what keeps him going. Fast forward several years, and he's been accepted into Monsters University, which is one of the top schools for scarers. He meets Sullivan (John Goodman) in his introductory class, but they weren't always friends. He comes from a prestigious family, so he has always had everything handed to him. They were originally enemies who competed for who was considered the better monster.
While the original worked with a creative concept that hadn't been done before, its prequel often works with the familiar. However, screenwriters Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon manage to keep it entirely entertaining. They have done an excellent job making our protagonists more immature, since they're freshmen in college. It's intriguing to see how these characters developed into the monsters that they are in Monsters, Inc., since this film explains how Mike and Sullivan became the best of friends. The basic plot progressions are the stereotypical developments one would expect to see in a college-themed flick. Even though it's more exciting to see surprises, the film's predictability doesn't detract from one's ability to enjoy what it has to offer. The running time flies by extremely quickly.
Comedy has become one of the most crucial aspects of these motion pictures. Fortunately, Monsters University has its moments when it's quite funny. The humor doesn't feature as many laugh-out-loud gags as one would imagine. A lot of the jokes are clearly aimed towards children, and I was hoping for more college-related gags that could be aimed towards the adults. Even though this isn't ever entirely satisfied, there are still numerous scenes that had me laughing. This prequel works as a coming-of-age picture for both Mike and Sullivan. The comedy takes the passenger seat, while the relationship between these two characters takes ahold of the wheel. Furthermore, the story features some nice messages for younger viewers. It speaks about being yourself and that you can do anything if you work hard enough. Fortunately, these scenes never come across as being preachy or overly-sentimental. There's a certain genuine factor that will surely work with moviegoers.
My biggest issue with Monsters University is that it doesn't have as much commentary about college life as I was expecting. There are a few jokes about classes and whatnot, but the filmmakers never capture the life of living on campus. It somehow feels like a missed opportunity, since this could have allowed for a greater variety in moviegoing audiences. There are a lot of campus flicks out there, but it sometimes feels like nothing more than a watered down coming-of-age movie. It takes some time to adjust to the fact that this plot is a lot more about its characters and their goals than it is about the setting. However, once you're adjusted, then it becomes acceptable due to the movie's ability to draw its viewers in and keep them hooked.
As expected, Pixar has created another appealing feature. They are known to develop the most beautiful animation in the industry. The textures look fantastic, as every object and creature looks real. The film is available in both 2D and 3D formats. While the 3D gimmick can sometimes hinder a movie, it looks decent here. There's a solid amount of depth that immerses viewers in this world created by Pixar. The audio track is just as exceptional as the animation, as every speaker is clearly utilized to its maximum potential. The surround sound further immerses us in the picture's story.
This is Pixar's best film in the past few years. While it isn't original, this prequel provides some additional character disposition and plenty of entertainment. There isn't quite as much humor as I hoped for and was surprised by the lack of college material, but the film has heart. There are some nice messages to be found and it expands a lot more on the first feature. Monsters University works with Monsters, Inc. instead of against it for profit. Despite all of the issues, I really enjoyed Pixar's latest offering. Highly recommended.