Monsters Inc., which was released back in 2001 (when I was 11 years old), has a special place in many hearts of folks my age. While I'm not a huge, huge fan of Monsters Inc., I do remember watching the movie in the theater, and my love of films from my childhood has grown over the years, so I was looking forward to the prequel. However, the biggest problem that I thought may come with Monsters University is that the folks my age have very little interest in children's cartoons, on account of being in our 20s. For Pixar, releasing a prequel or sequel to a 12 year old film could have turned out to be a very bad idea. Fortunately, that was not the case, as Monster University has now remained at the top of the box office for two straight weekends. As for the concept behind the prequel, I was really very excited to see how Pixar did college. The worst part about "college comedies" tends to be the fact that they are rarely similar to the actual collegiate experience. In this case, actuality was not a huge concern, considering the film stars MONSTERS...
The entire focus of Monsters University was on the infamous Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal). Of course we learn the backstory of how he became friends with his partner, Sulley (voiced by John Goodman), but the plot was mostly "Mike vs. the world" or "Mike vs. wherever the monsters actually reside." While this theme was nice in the beginning, it got old after a while. Also, I was not pleased with the way they handled the "college life" of Mike and Sulley. Sure, Pixar has to keep it PG, but they could have at least thrown a joke in, here or there. But, it is what it is. My favorite thing about the film was the lack of any sort of romantic/love element, which I sort of expected with the collegiate theme for some reason. Pixar does a great job of keeping unnecessary romance out of the way, and I love it when a movie lacks a love story, because it is so rare.
It's really hard to critique characters in a sequel or prequel, because most people already have their mind made up regarding who they like or dislike. But, if you think of Monsters University as its own film, it is easy to find some highs and lows character-wise.
While Mike is my favorite Monster, by far, Sulley is also quite likeable. However, in Monsters University, I did not think they really did a good job of building up the character that we have all come to love. You may disagree, but, in comparison to Mike (who was the focus of the film), Sulley just fell into the background and became unimportant. Randall Boggs (voiced by Steve Buscemi), who was the villain in Monsters Inc., was another character that I did not think was built up in the best of ways. Randall should have switched roles with Monsters University's obvious villain, Johnny Worthington (voiced by Nathan Fillion).
As I said before, Mike is my favorite Monsters character, and that opinion was greatly strengthened with this film, as he was the only character who I thought was "prequelized" in a good way. While he was the focus of an unsatisfying plot, his character was great. The only other character that I loved was Art (voiced by Charlie Day), who was absolutely hilarious and stupid. He was basically a stoner stuck in a PG movie.
Under normal circumstances, Monsters University would be a very satisfying animated film, but, when you are dealing with a prequel to a historically praised animated film, you expect greatness. Unfortunately, I wouldn't categorize Monsters University as "greatness." I don't want to discourage people from watching, especially if you loved Monsters Inc., but it just wasn't as great as what we have come to expect from the Pixar crew. The least satisfying thing about Monsters University was the lack of college humor, which I was really looking forward to. Sure, they used fraternities and sororities and admission issues, but they were not used in a funny way, for the most part. I give Monsters University 2.92 out of 5 stars, and I hope that Pixar soon gets its act straight.