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Rated 3.11 stars
by 296 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Pixar's MU Lacks Heart
by Diana Saenger

Monsters University isn’t even close to being as funny and witty as its predecessor, Monsters, Inc. Still, how many prequels or sequels outshine their parent film? Some of the characters from the original movie have apparently aged and are now off to college. Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) is finally getting his dream to become a scarer and wants to gain admission into the Scare Program at Monsters University. It might seem coincidental, but he’s joined by a few characters from the original film including Sulley (voiced by John Goodman), and Randy (voiced by Steve Buscemi).

It doesn’t take anyone over four to realize Mike looks like a funny-looking ball with one eye. He’s not scary at all. And that’s exactly what Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) lets him know in no uncertain terms.  The Dean should know, because she is scary and might even frighten some really young members of the audience.

Even though Mike studies the scare books from back to front, he simply can’t produce a frightening face or hearty growl that makes the other students jump. Meanwhile, all blue Sulley has to do is puff up those huge shoulders, let his big white teeth show, and unleash a growl that makes kids run and hide. 

We see a lot here about what Pixar’s work is known for -- like cute things such as when the students have to walk into rooms where artificial simulators of little children are sleeping and have to scare them. Their actions are recorded on a monitor that reveals each one's  scare score.

Co-screenwriters Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird (co-collaborators on Monsters, Inc. script also), attempt to re-create the jewel they helped birth in the original film, but this prequel falls short in many areas. Of course, Mike does not do well in this test. But he doesn’t give up. That’s one of the few positive things about Monsters University.

Included in the prequel are many things about college that seem pertinent to today, including pledges, rivalries and competitions. I felt some of this went a little overboard for an audience that only wants to be entertained. The big campus competitions where teams snarl at each other come across like immature CNN sports events, not something a five or six-year-old child would find interesting.  I also think this prequel lacks the real passion that was so much a part of Monsters, Inc. -- one of my all-time animated favorites.

Worst of all <spoiler alert>, Mike discovers he’s just not right for his dream. Who thought that idea up for a movie aimed at kids? Yes, there are laughs for both adults and children, but that’s not enough to push this film up to par with its Pixar animated siblings.

(Released by Disney•Pixar and rated “G” for all audiences.)

Review also posted at

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