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article imageReview: 'Monsters University' is a family friendly frat movie Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 21, 2013 in Entertainment
‘Monsters University’ looks at how Mike and Sully overcame their differences to become the inseparable friends everyone knows and loves.
More often than not, sequels do not live up to the standards set by their predecessors (the second installment of a trilogy does not count). But prequels are less predictable. Going back into the histories of already established characters is tricky, but it has great entertainment potential. Monsters University is Mike and Sully's origin story.
Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) was always the little guy – bullied, ignored and forgotten. But a school trip to Monsters Inc. channels his life's trajectory towards one goal: going to Monsters University and training to become a scarer. Finally achieving his goal through hard work and studying, Mike is dismayed to see everything handed to a slacker with a legacy – James Sullivan (John Goodman). Their rivalry eventually derails either of their chances at graduating. Their only hope is to work together and turn a bunch of scare school rejects into Scare Games champions.
The one restraint Pixar appears to have obeyed is not stretching the narrative to tie in too many characters from the first film. They use this movie as an opportunity to imagine new types of monsters and introduce new personalities to audiences. Don (Joel Murray) is a good-natured former salesman turned mature student. Terry and Terri (Dave Foley and Sean Hayes) share a body but not a love of dance. Art (Charlie Day) is a laid back philosophy major who seems like he'd be a great hacky sack player. And Squishy (Peter Sohn) is a sweet kid whose mom owns the Oozma Kappa fraternity house.
It's obvious creators were influenced by frat/college movies of the '70s and '80s. Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds appear to be key inspirations with a large section of the plot from the latter mirrored in the film. Of course the vulgarity of the genre is cleaned up for a Disney audience, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. There are still mascots to be kidnapped, rival fraternities to be shown up and deans to be proved wrong.
Pixar Animation Studios
Even when they’re not getting along, Mike and Sully play great on screen together. Mike’s seriousness pitted against Sully’s relaxed spontaneity is what makes their relationship so entertaining. More than a decade later, Crystal and Goodman step back into their respective green and blue feet flawlessly. Steve Buscemi also reprises his role, exploring how Randy became the bitter nemesis of their future. In addition to those already mentioned, Nathan Fillion is the voice of Roar Omega Roar's leader -- the popular, judgemental jock every frat movie needs -- and Helen Mirren is the hard to please dean of the university.
With no shortage of exceptional talent, this movie will satisfy any Pixar fan. Though it may not knock their M.U. emblazoned hats off.
Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi
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