Just got back from seeing Monsters University, and while I enjoyed it, it was definitely a sequel that didn’t reach the heights of the original Monsters Inc.. We already know the characters, and the plot here is very familiar. In fact, if you’ve seen a college movie, you know what happens.
There’s the devoted youngster whose dedication takes him through every challenge (Billy Crystal as Mike), his buddy who learns the true meaning of friendship (John Goodman as Sully), the underdogs (including Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, and Dave Foley) who make good against the stuck-up popular kids, and the weirdos who show that it’s what’s in your heart that counts, not your appearance. (Since I knew the movie’s story, due to my playing with the iPad app, I went mostly to hear Nathan Fillion as Johnny Worthington, leader of the Roar Omega Roar frat boys. And yes, I enjoyed that part.)
Typical of Pixar films, there is also a lack of female characters. The main roles for women include the scary dean (Helen Mirren), who picks on our heroes because they mess up her trophy; a group of interchangeable sorority girls (with a funny one-note gimmick); one of the competition announcers; and the housewife mother of one of the frat brothers. It’s also slow getting started, as we have to watch young Mike Wazowski get inspired (and picked on) on a school field trip to the Monsters Inc. factory scare floor long before we get to the college stuff.
Also, the whole plot about Mike not looking scary enough was hard to manage, as most of the monsters look like various rainbow flavors of Jell-O. Since this is a kids’ movie, they’re cute, not repulsive, so that part of the plot falls a bit flat. The animation is terrific, though, with all the characters seeming authentic and well-done.
In short, the movie was just what I expected. If not released under the Pixar brand, I would have been perfectly happy with a competent piece of summer entertainment. It’s just that Pixar used to mean having much higher expectations. It’s not as bad as Cars 2, though.