Monsters University

Apparently the “lovable band of misfits” theme is big these days. Just two weeks after Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson captained their gang of losers to an underdog win in The Internship, we now find out that it’s how Monsters Inc.‘s Mike Wazowski and Sully became such good friends, too.

Set a year or so before the events of Monsters Inc., Monsters University is the latest from the do-no-wrong folks over at Pixar… though this time, it seems, they were happy to just skate by. The biggest issue is whether the film should have even been made in the first place. Frankly I would have been much more interested in seeing a sequel instead, knowing that laughter is now the best medicine. Think of the possibilities that sets up.

Instead we learn how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) were introduced during the first days of classes at Monsters University. Mike is kid whose life-long dream was to be a scarer, and Sully is content to ride his family’s good name all the way to scarer stardom. When both get bounced from the Scarer program, they team up (with, yes, some lovable losers) to compete in the Scare Games; the snarly Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) promises that, if they win, Sully and Mike will be allowed back into the program.

All the stereotypical bits of college life are here, and though each given a cute monster-ish spin– from beer pong to new kids at orientation– we’ve seen all this before in pretty much every college movie ever made.

The trick to prequels is to include plenty of Easter Eggs that tie back (or forward) to the original, but in Monsters University, they’re in short supply, especially by Pixar standards. Two brilliant cameos, in fact, are left until the very end and actually seem like rushed afterthoughts.

The film is entertaining and generally fun, sure, and the kids will eat it up like sugary cereal, but unfortunately it falls far short in the trademark Pixar pillars of heart, imagination, and, frankly, creativity.

3.5/5 stars