Monsters University
dir Dan Scanlon
prd Kori Rae
scr Robert L Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanlon
voices Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Peter Sohn, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza
release US 21.Jun.13, UK 12.Jul.13
13/US Pixar 1h50
Monsters University
When Sulley met Mike: friends forever?

crystal goodman mirren
See also:
edinburgh film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Monsters University More of an action movie than a comedy, this prequel has high energy levels as it zooms through its big-scale plot. There's an abundance of hilarious visual and verbal gags along the way. So the film is thoroughly entertaining, even if the two central characters are the only ones that catch our imaginations.

As a young monster, Mike (Crystal) always dreamed of becoming a scarer. So he takes things seriously when he enters Monsters University. His roommate Randy (Buscemi) is more interested in having fun, while classmate Sulley (Goodman) is riding on his father's legacy. When they fall afoul of Dean Hardscrabble (Mirren), Mike and Sulley must work together win the Scare Games so they can stay in school. But the only team available is populated by losers: homespun Don (Murray), two-headed dork Terry/Terri (Hayes/Foley), five-wide-eyed Squishy (Sohn) and furry philosopher Art (Day).

Yes, the film almost has the same plot as Glee, as goofy underdogs take on the cool kids to rule the school, along the way discovering their true inner talents and putting them to use. Fortunately, the script gets distracted by the much more endearing spark of bromance between Mike and Sulley. This gives the movie a real heart and also lets Crystal and Goodman take a break from all that hilariously snappy dialog.

Both Mike and Sulley are strong characters we can identify with, but the script never bothers to deepen the monsters around them. Each has one witty characteristic, which rounds out the comical tone with snarky sarcasm, goofy slapstick, naive bumbling and so forth. So the plot races quickly from set-piece to set-piece, with rapid-fire montages in between, never quite settling into a groove.

By contrast, the 2001 original is a classic because it gets this balance just right. This prequel keeps fans thrilled with genuinely exciting action, a couple of emotional moments and gorgeously rendered animation. The riotous details and frat-house humour will make adults laugh even as they go over younger viewers' heads. And amid the hectic pacing, the most memorable lesson is that we need to be realistic about our dreams and limitations. Not many movies have the nerve to say something like that.

cert u themes, some violence 9.Jun.13

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