Monsters University – USA, 2013 – overview

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Monsters University is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney. Dan Scanlon is the director and Kori Rae is the producer. It is the fourteenth film produced by Pixar and the prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc.

Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Frank Oz, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger reprise their roles as Mike Wazowski, James P. Sullivan, Randall Boggs, Jeff Fungus, Roz, and The Abominable Snowman, respectively. The film was released on June 21, 2013 in the US and took $82m over the weekend, Pixar’s second biggest opening behind the $110.3m set by Toy Story in 2010. Second place went to World War Z thanks to $66m takings – a new opening record for Brad Pitt.

Ever since a childhood school field trip to the Monsters, Inc. factory, Michael “Mike” Wazowski has dreamed of becoming a scarer. Thanks to his hard work and lots of studying, Mike is accepted at the prestigious Monsters University.

Now a college freshman, Mike begins majoring in scaring. On his first day, Mike befriends the nerdy and shy Randall “Randy” Boggs, who desires to be popular and has difficulty controlling his camouflage power. While studying one night, Mike encounters an arrogant, playful, all-brawn, large blue monster named James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, who inadvertently breaks into Mike’s room in order to hide Archie, the mascot of rival college, Fear Tech. After greeting each other, Archie steals Mike’s hat and escapes. Mike and Sulley follow Archie outside where they have a struggle to capture Archie. When they do catch Archie, Sulley is invited to join Roar Omega Roar, the top fraternity on campus. Mike tries to join, but an argument with Sulley ignites a rivalry between the two.

While the duo compete to see who’s the better scarer, Dean Hardscrabble, the stern headmistress of the MU scaring program, tells the students their final exam for the semester will determine if they can continue in the scaring program. Eventually, Mike and Sulley’s petty competition gets out of hand and causes Dean Hardscrabble to drop both of them from the program and Sulley to be kicked out of his fraternity. Unhappy in his new major, Mike decides to enter the Scare Games, a series of physical challenges that tests a monster’s scaring ability, in hopes of proving he can be a good scarer…

Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A–, saying “Monsters University is exactly the rebound Pixar needed after 2011’s Cars 2 left some wondering if the studio had lost its magic. The delightful story of when Mike met Sulley puts those concerns to rest.”

The Boston Globe gave the film two-and-a-half out of four stars, saying “This is not a bad movie, and to small children it will be a very good one, but it’s closer to average than one would wish from the company that gave us UpWALL-EThe Incredibles, and the Toy Story series.”

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying “The movie is not up to the company’s highest standards, but it’s certainly better than most other kid flicks you’ll see this year.”

Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying “Monsters University, the weirdly charmless sequel to the animated 2001 Pixar hit Monsters, Inc., is no better or worse than the average (and I mean average) time-filling sequel cranked out by other animation houses.”

Rolling Stone gave the film three out of four stars, saying “It’s all infectious fun, despite the lack of originality. In the art of tickling funny bones, Crystal and Goodman earn straight A’s.”

New York Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying “The under-5 set may find it funny, though I suspect their parents will be checking their watches a lot, as I did.”

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The New York Times gave the film two-and-a-half out of five stars, saying “Both the originality and stirring emotional complexity of Monsters, Inc., with its exquisitely painful and touching parallels with the human world, are missing.”

Newsday gave the film three out of four stars, saying “Monsters University has an emotional quality that its whimsical predecessor lacked. It has a happy ending, of course, but this movie also feels – in its monstery way – very real.”

The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying “Monsters University never surprises, goes off in unexpected directions or throws you for a loop in the manner of the best Pixar stories. Nor does it come close to elating through the sheer imagination of its conceits and storytelling.”

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