***WARNING: MILD SPOILERS AHEAD***
If there’s anything you can count on, it’s that Disney/Pixar films never disappoint. Their movies, sequels, and shorts have never disappointed, and now prequels can be added to their list of family-loving successes with Monsters University. If you haven’t had the chance to meet star monsters Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) in Monsters, Inc., then now is your chance to get to know the scaring/comedy duo in the year they got to know each other.
As the film begins, we meet Mike: a short monster with big dreams. He’s the kind of kid that nobody picks in dodgeball, but he never lets the disappointment interfere with his goals. I noticed that’s a heavily recurring theme, and that Mike continues to persevere no matter how big or small his obstacle. His optimism is charming, and his efforts endearing. On the opposite spectrum is a college hot-shot Sulley. Fluffy and furry James P. Sullivan (who calls himself “Jimmy”) comes from a long line of scarers who are notorious for being great monsters. Thus, Sulley refuses to work towards being a great monster, because he feels he already is a great monster effortlessly. The odd couple are forced to team together after both are dropped from the university’s scaring program by Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren).
A slough of new characters are introduced for this installment. Free spirited Art (Charlie Day), “mature student” Don Carlton (Joel Murray), doe-eyed Squishy (Peter Sohn), and two-headed Terri and Terry Perry (Sean Hayes and Dave Foley) round out the existing members of the Oozma Kappa fraternity. When it appears Mike and Sulley’s only chance for redemption is through Greek games, they join OK with hopes of turning the group of failure scarers into school champions.
Lovers of the original film fear not! Slimey Randall Boggs (Steve Buscemi) starts his scare career with our comedic duo, and plenty of easter egg throwbacks are hidden throughout the film. A roll call including Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Bill Hader, John Krasinki, Beth Behrs, Bonnie Hunt and Tyler Labine all lend their voices to MU for a star-studded cast of monsters. The theater was full of laughter from both kids and their parents, and there were a few times when I slyly blotted my eyelids from tears. Overall, Monsters University does justice to the characters we know and love, while telling a unique story of friendship and overcoming obstacles.
I attended a press screening of the film. All opinions are original.