"You don't study scaring, you just do it."
I wasn't a huge fan of the original animated film, but I still enjoyed it enough to want to go check out this prequel, Monsters University. I have to admit that Pixar rarely makes a bad film (with the exception of Cars 2) so obviously expectations are always really high for these kind of films. I wasn't blown away by their latest effort, Brave, and I kind of felt the same way about Monsters University. It was a charming film with some funny moments and some heart, but it wasn't up to par with Pixar's greatest films. It had a pretty simple message for kids: fight for your dreams and even if you don't accomplish them you will still find what you are good at along the way and everything will work out. Billy Crystal and John Goodman do some great voice work once again here for their memorable characters, Sullivan and Mike. The animation was also excellent, and Pixar is probably the best at this department with some great art work. I had a fun time at the theaters, but wasn't blown away this time and felt a bit disappointed. It was very formulaic and the character development was pretty weak for a Pixar film, but I still laughed during several scenes so I still have to give this film a passing grade.
The story works as a sequel as it focuses on Mike's (Billy Crystal) early years. In a school visit to Monsters Inc. Mike discovers he wants to become a scarer and so the film jumps in time to when he enrolls at Monsters University and begins to major as a scarer. Here he meets Sully (John Goodman) who he really dislikes. They seem to always be competing with each other until a series of unfortunate events makes the pair team up with each other to overcome their odds. Mike and Sully cause a disturbance and Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) expels them from the program. This forces Mike and Sully to team together for the school's scare games once the Dean acknowledges the possibility of them reentering the program if they win. The problem is that they have some fierce competition and they have to team up with the sorority group of Oozma Kappa, a bunch of outcasts who have no experience at being scarers. Thus the film turns into a classic underdog competition (Revenge of the nerds style). Randy (Steve Buscemi) is also in this prequel, who surprisingly was Mike's friendly roommate. Something happens during the film which will make him turn into the classic villain we saw in Monster Inc.
The film is pretty formulaic, but I found it entertaining to see how the friendship between Mike and Sully began after being suche fierce rivals. I also was surprised to discover Randy wasn't your typical villain, he was friendly once and something happens to him that causes him to change his behavior. Overall this is probably one of Pixar's weakest efforts, but it is still a charming fun film and one kids will enjoy. These are all likable characters and the only person who he really miss from Monsters Inc. is the lovable Boo. Despite not being a great film, I still would recommend it for kids, and I think adults will have a lot of fun if they don't go see it with high expectations.