Friday, July 5, 2013

Movie with Abe: Monsters University

Monsters University
Directed by Dan Scanlon
Released June 21, 2013

It feels like most movies today are sequels, remakes, or prequels. It’s hard to find an original idea in cinema, and that can be frustrating, especially when the newer version is hardly as good as the first time around. Fortunately, that’s not always the case. “Monsters, Inc.” was released back when Pixar had made only three movies, one of which was a sequel that actually worked, “Toy Story 2.” Now, the animation studio has released several other sequels, and its latest, “Monsters University,” is its first official prequel, chronicling the story of the beginning of Mike and Sully’s friendship. Like so many of its Pixar predecessors, this one is an affirming hit.

What made “Monsters, Inc.” so enjoyable and clever was the fact that it utilized a universal concept, children being afraid at night, and turned it into a sincere and heartwarming comedy. Better yet, it turned that idea into a misconception by the end of the film, with the discovery that a child’s laughter is even more powerful than a scream. Some, including this reviewer, might have thought that revisiting this story would be unnecessary, but, once again, the Pixar brand proves strong. This tale is just as charming and entertaining as the last trip to this particular world.

Another token Pixar trait is the fact that its films are equally appealing to kids and adults. The physical comedy of “Monsters University” and its colorful visuals will surely delight young children, while their parents will laugh at the myriad of sophisticated references that make each already funny scene all the more delightful and brilliant. College students will also enjoy the extensive parody of a university and Greek life in particular.

A smart story is expected and delivered, and the voice work is entirely commendable. Billy Crystal and John Goodman are an unbeatable duo as the eccentric and excitable Mike and big lug Sully, respectively. In addition to returning voices like Steve Buscemi as Randy, Helen Mirren, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, and Aubrey Plaza, among others, contribute to a lively ensemble that makes this film an entirely pleasant and superb comedy. Mature twists and a hopeful final scene make this film a solid prequel and a terrific case for another visit to this wonderful universe. There may be new ideas to explore, but this concept is well worth another shot.


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