The highly acclaimed feel good comedy, Monsters Inc. (2001, Pixar), deserved a prequel showing audiences the start of a wonderful alliance between two best friends—once arch-nemesis—Michael “Mike” Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James Phil “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman). Monsters University serves the purpose of lighting the road of Mike and Sully from students at Monsters University to highlights of the Scarer Team—evolution via revolution! That is the team of Mike and Sully.
The start of Mike’s adventure sees flame from his days at Frighton Elementary School, where Mike is the “monster” everybody wishes to ignore and see through. It is during this inciting period of his life, Mike resolves to become a Scarer—his goal, vision, and everything from here, to become one Scarer. With this goal in mind, Mike enrolls into the School of Scaring at Monsters University—the holy pilgrimage accompanied by a friend in disguise Randall “Randy” Boggs (Steven Buscemi) and enemy in disguise, the adorable Sully himself. Commencing from this enrollment into the dream program for Mike and Sully—mainly Mike—events led to consequences and consequences draw the path for eternal shame, disdain, and ultimate fame for not only the two immortal ones, but the faction of Oozma Kappa (OK).
At the School of Scaring, the story does well to establish the zealous and academic qualities of the diligent, all knowing, and adorable Mike, with the supremely gifted, shallowly entrenching, personality of Sulley. Monsters University focuses on the old age progression from filth to affection between two unlikely mates brought together by coincidences; forced to travel a journey against their will, but in its climax—develops to become one rich association, spiritual and humane. From the first frame of this CG animation cinema, the characters of Mike and Sulley go through all the phases of typical character building until they reach a point of truce. The events leading until the truce and the subsequent enlightenment for both is what Monsters University educates viewers about—smooth, swift, at times lacking in craft. The University of Monsters suffers severely from the facet many prequels find it haunted—well known story in advance: just awaiting the burst of the bubble. Having already realized the intrinsic friendship of unshakable rhythm between Mike and Sully, one anticipates throughout the movie for that moment of truth, and when it comes—it is one nostalgic moment—very pleasing to the eyes and ears.
The title of the movie is grossly suggestive and without much surprises, the story focuses largely on the academic pursuits of the two immortal characters in Pixar’s history. Unlike Monsters Inc., the scaring process and the pursuit of redemption for Mike and Sully are limited to scaring robotic dummies rather than breathing children. With that illustrated, the enlightening sequence before the finality strengthens the story’s value and gives viewers one of the most well crafted scenes of the movie. Needless to assert, it is the enlightening stage—the nirvana for the two best buddies. Also, not to forget how the visual classic introduces Randall in a muted fashion—showing viewers of his ultimate disapproval of the magical team. The Dean, Abigail Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), is one “unlikable” addition to the Monsters team, but if it were not for her scary and eventful character, this friendship would have never seen day, or night in scaring the blues out of children in woos.
Dan Scanlon films his own story in his first major attempt for Pixar. With MU, he tries to enhance the franchise of Monsters, which I would not be so sure it achieved, yet MU is one remarkable leap from Inc. in terms of CG animation, scene designing, graphic movements, and the stunning display of the university as well as the mirage of infrastructure and architecture in its grandeur. The story lacked the warmth of Inc., but the visuals did its best to make up and send viewers home with happy eye candies of sacredness.
Co-written by Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird, the storytelling tries its best to capture the history of two phenomenal Monsters, but due to the lack of development of the scope in story, it falls short of Monsters Inc. It is highly unfair to keep going back to Monsters Inc. because MU has its strengths—manifold in that—and as a family entertainer and a movie for children as well as adults, MU is one fine piece of art from Pixar’s resident storyboard expert and graphic designer. On its own, MU stands tall and gives heart-touching roots of two of the favorites Monsters the world has seen; an experience worth adventuring for all concerned.
Image Credit: Crave Online, Server a Cruz, It’s Art Mag, Disney Blog