At the humble age of 9 I eagerly sat in my cinema seat awaiting a screening of Monsters Inc. To this day it remains my favourite Pixar film. Like all Pixar masterpieces, it contains strong messages about individuality, ambition, friendship and the importance of self belief and thought. The comedy and emotion are of an exceptionally high standard and it was always going to be difficult for the prequel to live up to such an imaginative, comical and meaningful film. My earlier worries about Monsters University were expressed in a post from almost a year ago…Doubting the Monsters. Putting all worries aside, I flounced into the screening of the prequel with high hopes and a child-like giddiness that took me back to my younger years. Cinema is rarely as exciting as when you’ve waited so long to re-visit characters and stories that you cherish; a feeling I associate most closely with the Harry Potter franchise. As the film came to a close I was able to sigh with relief; it wasn’t a disappointment.
Don’t forget, we all doubted Toy Story 3 when we originally heard about it and we all came out of the screens wishing we’d trusted Pixar more. In recent years Pixar’s flawless filmography has been slightly tarnished by the release of Cars 2 and its collaboration with Disney was cause for concern, but Monsters University is a clear example of the studio’s intelligence and conviction. I laughed a lot more than I expected to and there was a consistent level of comedy that the film makers managed to maintain. The animation itself is outstanding – although, would we expect anything less from Pixar? Still, it is shocking how far the visuals have developed since Monsters Inc. It is charming, endearing and surprising. Typically, Pixar have succeeded in capturing me at a particularly vulnerable time and moved me with the reassurance that it is okay to make mistakes, not fit in and fail. As I prepare to travel to a new city filled with new people and new experiences, I found myself welling up as Mike Wazowski faces up to his inner ferocity and his unique spirit. Despite the predictable plot (and despite the intolerable Helen Mirren), Monsters University travels along at a steady and engaging pace. There is enough here to entertain adults and children alike.
Fans of Monsters Inc. will not be let down. Consistent and comical references to the first instalment come thick and fast and are not only witty but transport us back, once more, to the memories of watching Monsters Inc for the first time. There are perhaps one too many ‘college character and clique’ parodies but they are amusing none the less and add to the characters. A younger Mike and Sully are almost unrecognisable on their first day at the University but soon transform and morph into distorted versions of who they will finally become. If anything, Monsters University adds to the characters and it becomes more apparent as to why both characters are the way they are in the end. Pixar never fails to address the child and the vulnerability in all of us. Through an array of characters, creatures and settings, Pixar appear to maintain one similar message: that it is okay to feel different. Although Monsters University is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, it seemed to carry this message as strongly as other recent successes such as Brave and WALL-E. Monsters University is warm, substantial entertainment that continues to carry a flame that was ignited in Andy’s bedroom all those years ago.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.