Pixar is really loving revisiting some of their past hits by spawning several sequels. We got the incredible Toy Story 3, which rightfully scored a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, but after that, the studio has oddly chosen their 2 weakest films to create sequels for. First it was Cars, and at least that one made sense because the merchandise sales for McQueen and friends is through the roof, but was anyone clamouring for a Monsters Inc. sequel?
Well, actually we got a prequel. Monsters University looks back at when Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) first got into the scare business by going to university. Monsters Inc. was a mildly amusing cartoon, and so it should be expected that’s exactly what we get in its prequel. After a field trip as a young student to see how professional scarers do it, Mike is deadset on going to Monsters University when he’s older. Well, he gets in, but he doesn’t exactly have the look, the voice, or the personality of a scary monster, but he’s determined to make it.
Sully has an easier time since he looks the part so much. The two students meet at universities and don’t get along at all, but they are brought together after the dean (Helen Mirren) kicks them out of the school. They join forces to try to get back into the school by competing in the Scare Games and rounding up a bunch of monster misfits.
The plot sounds like a simple kids movie, and that’s what this is. Young ones will get a kick out of it, but the cleverness, the intelligence, and the emotion of Pixar’s best work is missing completely. This is a run-of-the-mill cartoon that would be a highlight on any other studio’s filmography, but for Pixar, it’s a disappointingly unexciting film.