Monsters University ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Truthfully, Monsters, Inc. has remained my least favorite Pixar film that wasn't Cars so I was less than enthused when I learned it was getting a prequel. When I learned it was going to be essentially a frat comedy instead of a serious set-up for the original film, I admit I found my curiosity piqued. I was late in celebrating my niece's birthday, but we rectified that tonight and this was what she chose to go see.

One of my chief complaints about Monsters, Inc. is that I'm taken out of the movie every time I hear either Billy Crystal or John Goodman. I visualize them in a recording booth, performing their lines. There's something about those two voices that are so incongruous with the look of their characters that I mentally cannot connect them in the same way that I accept Tom Hanks as Woody or Patton Oswalt as Remy.

That was a lot less of an issue here, though, for whatever reason. I was still conscious of whose voices I was hearing, but I was more able to "see" Mike and Sully as characters. I think a key part of it is that this time around, they were surrounded by very active supporting characters, whereas in the first picture it's largely the two of them at all times.

I also appreciated that for once, a prequel was constructed without going overboard to connect to everything in the original film. Pixar didn't go for a "reverse payoff" gimmick here. Instead, they just told us a story that can stand on its own independently of the other film. I always liked the premise of Monsters, Inc. - that the monsters under the bed and in the closet are real - but the story bored me. Monsters University takes for granted that we accept that monsters are real, and that freedom allowed for one of the funnier Pixar movies in a while.

Several times throughout the screening, I found my niece and I laughing. Sometimes at the same thing, sometimes not. It was a 9:40 start time, so the fact she remained awake throughout it was a win in itself; that she was into the movie was even more impressive. As for me, I can think of no higher praise than to recant my initial "Ugh!" reaction to knowing this movie was being made. In fact, I kinda wish that they had never made Monsters, Inc. and instead could develop a sequel to Monsters University more in keeping with the tone of this prequel.

How Monsters University Entered My Flickchart

Monsters University < The Ring --> #1527
Though I did enjoy Monsters University - certainly more than the original film, The Ring was more satisfying.

Monsters University > Silver Blaze --> #1152
The early Holmes films are likable enough, but little distinguishes any one of them for me and Silver Blaze is no exception. This is a solid win for the entertaining Monsters University.

Monsters University > Iron Man 2 --> #960
I liked both of these more than their respective predecessors, but I was much more entertained by Monsters University.

Monsters University > Friday the 13th, Part 2 --> #864
Ask me again in the fall and I *might* pick Friday the 13th, Part 2 - it's a fun slasher, after all - but right now I favor the comedy of Monsters University.

Monsters University > Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets --> #816
I could conceivably flip-flop on this one depending on my mood. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is fun, but not one of the stronger films in that series. Going with Monsters University this time.

Monsters University > Superman/Batman: Apocalypse --> #792
Normally, Batman > No Batman, but while I liked Superman/Batman: Apocalypse I didn't really go gaga over it. Giving the nod to Monsters University, which I didn't expect to like half as much as I did.

Monsters University > Rocks --> #780
Rocks is clever and deceptively poignant, but here I favor Monsters University for making me laugh.

Monsters University < Ghosts of Girlfriends Past --> #780
Monsters University is the more obvious choice, but I love Dickens' A Christmas Carol, I have a soft spot for Jennifer Garner and it's fun to watch Michael Douglas ape Nicholson.

Monsters University > Carrie --> #777
By the time I saw Carrie, I knew its ending and it failed to deliver any surprises along the way. Because of this, it felt just perfunctory to me. That costs it against the surprisingly fun Monsters University.

Monsters University < Eleventh Hour --> #777
Though Monsters University is a lot of fun, there's something about wartime propaganda starring Superman that I find hard to resist.

Monsters University entered my Flickchart at #777/1536