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Times of India
In this prequel to Monsters Inc, find out how Mike Wazowski and James P 'Sulley' Sullivan became buddies while in college and eventually, scarers.
Mike (Crystal) and Sulley (Goodman) weren't always the best of friends. Before landing up in their jobs as professional scarers at Monsters Inc, they were two very different individuals. One was the enterprising bookworm who wanted to go places while the other was a legacy (the child of a famous ex-student) who everybody wanted to hang around.
In fact, there are certain traits of the main characters in this film that stand out as reminders to their older selves seen in Inc. While a stern headmistress (Mirren, pulling off a Maggie Grace a la Professor McGonagall) doesn't think the pea-shaped Mike can't scare a child even if he wanted to, he sets out to prove her wrong after being kicked off the scaring course. A scarers' contest follows (Revenge of the Nerds or Student of The Year coming to mind, anyone?) where fraternities face off each other.
What follows is a fight to stay "on course". An unlikely ragtag team slugs it out against the best of the lot for pride and a chance at glory.
The film starts out while Mike is in school and on a field trip to the Monsters Inc facility. A chance meeting with a legendary scarer has him chalking out career plans which hit the reality speedbreaker when he crosses paths with Sulley.
The sorting of friends and foes and the actual discoveries of what's real and what's not is what makes up the rest of the story.
Crystal and Goodman retain the chemistry that made the first film such a good buddy flick. Don Scanlan takes over the reins and shows a confident touch. The animation is as realistic and top-notch as ever.
But what really is striking is the fact that a lot of the things that made Monsters Inc such a beloved film are missing here. The sharper dialogues, crisper editing and the more layered story and characters that were the highlights of Inc don't exist in the world of University.
What remains is a predictable college caper that you have inevitably grown up with or endured over the years. The cliches, the stereotypes and other banalities of a film of this genre are magnified and made annoyingly kid-friendly.
It's not a bad film. Far from that. It is actually quite enjoyable when watched for its own merits and with the entire family. It's endearing in parts. But compare it to Monsters Inc, and it falls quite short on charm.
First and foremost, this movie should be almost painfully relatable to the Disney Renaissance Generation. For the convenience of the meanings told in Disney and Pixar films, couldn't be more relatable to the age of those born in the mid 90's growing up. Also, for the question of a Monsters Inc. Prequel being necessary? Make that decision after the credits roll, for this was the most enjoyable movie I've seen so far in 2013. In an overwhelming blockbuster summer of over-hyped excitement followed by mild to severe disappointment, Monsters University isn't just a good sign for Pixar, it's a good sign that 2013 can be one of the best years of film.<br/><br/>Now! On to the review! The story of the origin of the friendship between one-eyed Mike Wazowski and the blue furred James P. Sullivan in their freshman year at Monsters University. This film has homages to all the classic college comedy movies, and as it doesn't hold out on laughs for the kids and adults, it has a great amount of heart. Questions of what the future holds, and if our dreams are as possible as we hope they are. Punches aren't pulled on these questions, which is why it isn't just some animated movie to take the kids to see.<br/><br/>References to real college life are blended with superb imagination of the monster world. Rather it be a long blonde haired guitar player, or the horns on the school bus. All original voice talent returns and keeps up with the track record of great performances in Pixar films. Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi grasp their characters and give them entirely different motivations compared to the original. Instead of a hardworking team, the two have a rivalry, and the supporting cast of their fraternity supply more relatability with a great variety of lovable monsters who help fill the story with even more heart.<br/><br/>The compatibility with Mike and Sully can be a bit surprising, for one is the study hard teachers pet, and the other a natural born scare student. And just as you think your more like one, the other comes in and you realize that even monsters can be scared of the real world just like us today. Fear of what life has in store, and if we have the talent to fulfill our dreams. This is a theme a lot of critics are missing, and shines making it worthy of being a great Pixar movie and prequel to a great classic.<br/><br/>The story isn't terribly generic as one may think, and every act is more different from the last. Starting with the clash between Mike and Sully, then onto the scare games, an intense series of games that declare supremacy of M.U. For the third and final act couldn't be more surprising though. It not only serves as a great climax, but something that we can once again commend Pixar for telling great stories in out of the box thinking that we should think paying for the $10 dollar ticket is worth it. And boy did I think this movie was worth it, for I will be definitely be seeing it a second and possibly third time.