Movie Review: Disney•Pixar’s Monsters University

Before we dig in, I’d like point out that Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters Inc. So, more or less, we already know how Monsters University will end.  This does not detract from the enjoyment of the film, as Monsters University is not a story of how Mike Wazoski (Billy Crystal) and James P Sullivan (John Goodman) become scarers for Monsters Inc, but a story of how they became friends.

Ever since Mike was a little monster, he had dreams of becoming a scarer after a field trip to Monsters Inc.  Sulley (Jimmy, as he introduces himself), was a legacy whose father was a famous scarer.  On paper, Mike and Sulley were polar opposites. A nerd versus a jock. At times, Monsters University has a Revenge of the Nerds feel with Oozma Kappa as Lambda Lambda Lambda, a subplot that I really enjoyed.  Oozma Kappa must find a way to look beyond their faults and utilize their unique set strengths to win the Scare Games competition in order to be taken seriously on the MU campus.  The question is, can they do it?

The third act is where Monsters University shines. We witness the moment during a lakeside chat where Mike and Sulley become true friends.  This heart to heart chat leads directly into an explosive finish that is full of wonderful surprises, including some call backs to earlier in the film as well as Monsters Inc.

The film is scored by Pixar regular, Randy Newman.  The main title theme instantly brought me back to my college days.  The marching band (which includes a strong drumline) is used throughout the movie to provide an extra boost of excitement to the scene.  You can sample the score in iTunes or on Amazon.  The end credit song, Gospel, which is not included on the soundtrack, is performed by MarchFourth Marching band. Thankfully, you can download the song from their 2009 album Rise Up.  Additionally, the soundtrack includes the Monsters University Alma Mater, which is printed below so you can memorize it before you arrive on campus.

Monsters University Alma Mater

Monsters University, we give our heart to you, we want you to be proud of us whatever we may do.

Where ever children are dreaming, we’ll bring them nightmares too, from Monsters University-Alma Mater; we love you.

Monsters of the world, can you hear the call?  At Monsters University, you’re welcome one and all.

Monster University, Monster University, first in terror, first in fear, we’re awfully glad we’re here.

Monsters University, we never will forget, the golden years we spent with you and the monster that we met.

No matter where life takes us, your light will come shining through. Oh, Monsters University-Alma Mater, hale to you.


If you take anything away from this review, make sure it is the following – stay in your seat and watch all of the credits. It is the summer; you have the time. I walked out of the theatre laughing.

If you thought Pixar created magic in 2001 with texture detail of Sulley’s fur, you are in for a treat.  I was blown away by the level of detail put into this film; from the textures, to the reflective services and lighting.  Visually stunning!  Now, the Monstrous Summer Morning Meet-up screening was in 2D, but I do plan on seeing it in 3D when Monsters University is released on June 21, 2013; the official start of Monstrous Summer!

Make sure to get to your seats early to see the latest trailers for The Lone Ranger, Disney•Pixar’s Planes, and DisneyNature’s Bears, but that is not the best part…  The lead into Monsters University is the all new Pixar short, The Blue Umbrella!  The Blue Umbrella has a simple plot that seemed very reminiscent of Paperman from Wreck-it Ralph.  The story follows the journey of the blue umbrella as it tries to meet back up with the red umbrella in a sea of black umbrellas.  The unique part of this story is how real the city looks.  I was blown away by the look of the short, and at first thought Pixar mixed in live action.  All around the city, everything that looked like a face reacted to the trials and tribulations of the blue umbrella’s travels with facial expressions.

There has been a great deal of promotion and hype surrounding Monsters University.  Monster this, Monstrous that… It is definitely working as my daughter is walking around the house chanting MU!  At one point, I began to ask myself why?  Is the movie not that good and Disney is just trying to capitalize on it before the release, or is it really that good?  I am glad to say that it is truly a solid film from Pixar.  It is not fair to compare one Pixar film to another, but this just as entertaining, if not more than Monsters Inc.  Unlike Toy Story 3, the only tears you may shed are tears of laughter; although there is a heartwarming story unfolding.

UPDATE: I had the chance to see Monsters University in 3D.  The movie was better the second time around and the 3D was enjoyable and not over the top.  If you are on the fence I would suggest the 3D showing.  From the perspective of a 6 year old girl, the best part was the sewer race and she liked PNK.  While I did not rush a fraternity, my wife was in a sorority and enjoyed the Greek Life parts of the film.

Monsters University will PremEAR at Sea, so check your Personal Navigators for showtimes if you are sailing this week.

UPDATE 2: Monsters University is available to preorder on iTunes.

What did you think about Monsters University?  Did it live up to the hype?

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