Review: Monsters University

By Barbara Evangelista June 26, 2013

There's nothing like seeing a new children's movie in a full theater with an audience that is ready to be delighted.  And Monsters University delivered, unlike many sequels.  In this case, Monsters University is actually a prequel, taking place when Mike and Sully are at college, before they work together at Monsters Inc.  Mike's lifelong dream is to be a scarer and to attend the scaring school at his dream college, Monsters U.  He studies hard all semester (showing up Sully, who makes lots of friends but doesn't work hard) but cannot convince the dean that he has the scaring goods.  He and Sully and their misfit frat brothers compete in the Scare Games to try to win their way back into the scaring school.

Monsters University is filled with many good lessons about working hard, perseverance, keeping an open mind and not judging others by their appearance, and teamwork.  It's also very funny, filled with tons of sight gags, prat falls, and jokes, and rolls along at a good clip.  Like Monsters Inc., there is a slow part about 2/3 of the way in where you begin to wonder if the movie is too long and where they're going with it, but it picks up again enjoyably with a somewhat surprising but good ending.

I'm a tough critic with children's movies (don't even get me started on the awfulness that was Ice Age 4) but I truly enjoyed Monsters University.  There were a couple of minutes where the story momentum slowed but, all in all, it was a delight from beginning to end.  Monsters Inc. was a bit better, especially in terms of originality.  My children have watched Monsters Inc. many times, and still enjoy it each time, but I'm not sure Monsters University will hold the same longterm and repeatable appeal.  The storyline is pretty predictable -- a combination of college comedy and underdog triumph.  It's great for children as young as 5, although the dean (a flying millipede monster) and librarian are quite scary, and there are some frat partying scenes (no mention of alcohol or drugs though and just a touch of romantic interest).

My children (10, 8 and 6) all loved the movie and were riveted the whole way through.  They laughed out loud, boogied to the frat party music, cheered for Mike and Sully's frat to win, and were a bit scared (but not too scared) by the scary monsters.  Pixar has definitely delivered another winner!