Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan meet during their college years
and go from rivals to friends as they try to be the best scarers on campus.
Monsters University (2013)
Directed by Dan Scanlon
Written by Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Dan Scanlon
Starring Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren,
Steve Buscemi, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes,
Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina
Prequel to 2001's Monsters, Inc.
I don't think I'm alone in thinking that after watching Monsters, Inc. as a kid, there was something about Monstropolis that always stayed with me. It was a world I wanted to know more about, and I wanted more of Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan. Lo and behold, twelve years after that iconic first film, we get a prequel that shows Mike and Sulley meeting each other in college. I didn't hear great things back in 2013, so I let it be. But in my ongoing quest to complete Pixar's catalog, it was inevitable that I'd finally sit down and watch this. I confess myself surprised, because I don't understand one iota of the hate this film got. This is one of the rare great prequels that builds on an established world, gives us deeper insight into characters we love, and provides a deep Pixar message about working hard to achieve your dreams while also accepting your own limitations.
Mike (Crystal) has wanted to be a scarer his entire life. When he's accepted into the scare program at the prestigious Monsters University, he thinks he's got it made. One day, he encounters laidback, legacy student James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (Goodman), whose father was a legend on campus, so he coasts. They become rivals, and together, they piss off the dean (Mirren), who kicks them out of the program. They end up shacking up with the lamest frat on campus, Oozma Kappa, who they then have to train to be top-notch scarers so they can win the Scare Games and get back into the program. Along the way, Mike and Sulley become friends and help each other find their strengths. Like most of Pixar's films, it's endearing, relatable, and way funnier than I expected.
Monsters University is one of Pixar's better sequels. I know it's a prequel, but it gets lumped in with the sequels, so why not just own it. I'm so glad Billy Crystal and John Goodman returned, as they are still the perfect duo for these characters. I was pleasantly surprised at how invested I became in the story, particularly how Randall (Buscemi) went from goofy, nice roommate to vengeful, sadistic child torturer. The transition makes sense, because one thing Pixar never gets enough credit for is their talented team of writers.