Tag Archives: Monsters Inc.

‘Monsters University’ Delivers Laughs, Lessons, and Likability

Monsters University combines two of my favorite things: Pixar movies and college. If that combo isn’t as big of a draw for you, no worries. The film is still worth your while.


Mike and Sully weren’t always best buds. ‘Monsters University’ tracks their road to friendship. (Image: ign.com)

This prequel to Monsters, Inc. gives viewers a look into the lives of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) before their career at Monstropolis’ mega corporation. After going on a pivotal field trip to Monsters, Inc. in his youth, Mike sets his sights on becoming a Monsters University graduate. His expansive knowledge of the art of scaring gives Mike an edge at the start of the program, but he is soon upstaged by Sully’s thunderous roar technique and prestigious family name. Their rivalry escalates until they find themselves competing on the same team during the university’s annual Scare Games. With a group of misfit monsters in tow, they learn they must work together to succeed.

Although the plot of Monsters University is somewhat simplistic, the film manages to win over viewers with its commitment to character development. Mike and Sully’s stories become more rounded; we get to know them just as the two get to know each other. Through the course of the film they show equal parts strength and vulnerability, humor and perseverance.

The motley brothers of Oozma Kappa (OK) toughen up for the Scare Games. (Image: youtube.com)

Mike and Sully are not the only monsters with whom we get acquainted, however. We meet Randy Boggs (Steve Buscemi) when he is still a gawky chameleon who wants to be part of the in-crowd. We also get acquainted with the brothers of Oozma Kappa, including Don (Joel Murray), the non-traditional student with a history in sales and Squishy (Peter Sohn), a multi-eyed creature with a good heart. Overseeing all of these students is the formidable Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), whose strict demeanor is as legendary as her all-time scream record.

Although the hijinks and personalities are plenty entertaining, it’s what we do not see that leaves the most positive impact. In typical Pixar fashion, Monsters University presents themes that are relatable and timeless: strive for your goals, celebrate your talents, and embrace the uniqueness of others. Those are messages that both monsters and humans can live by.

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Raising a Geekling: Thanks for Making It Suck Less

Kid TV sucks. Kid movies are better. Most of the time.

Well, some of it, anyway. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

On Saturday, I introduced the eldest of my spawn to “Monsters, Inc.” A happy accident, we stumbled upon it whilst channel surfing. He was immediately mesmerized, and I was surprised that he had never seen it before.

Then, I remembered that he’s four.


Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar

Oh, right… He wasn’t alive when it was released! Huh. Sometimes I forget that I have to teach and/or show these little creatures EVERYTHING. (No, don’t pick up gum in the parking lot! GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH! –True story. Gross.)

The upcoming sequel, “Monsters University,” is set to be released on Friday (BTW, June 21 is my birthday, and anyone who gets me a present will receive bonus LIFE POINTS. Inquire below for shipping information.), and I’m pretty sure it’s something that he’ll enjoy. Rather, more importantly, I’m pretty sure it’s something that I’ll enjoy. Let’s face it, I’m the one buying the tickets, so I should like the movie, right?

Which brings me to my topic (Way to bury the lede, right?): All kid movies should appeal in some way to the adult that has to be there. Really, it’s something that is already happening, and I seriously appreciate that! It just struck me anew on Saturday as I tried to watch “Monsters, Inc.” through fresh eyes, so I could explain things to my son if needed.

I was fascinated to realize that I was enjoying the movie just as much as he was.

How do they do that? How do they make a movie that I’m happy to settle into that also appeals to a child that will rewatch the same tripe over and over again? It’s amazing.

I also considered the general shift in my watching habits. Since hatching my children, I evaluate watchable-ness based on a kid-centric system. Categories include: “Can I watch this with my kid(s)?” “Will my kid(s) be scared of this?” and the popular catch-all, “How bad will my kid(s) be scarred for life if they walk out of their room for a midnight piddle only to find something violent/sexual/overall inappropriate for small children on the screen mommy what is that what are they doing do you do that oh my gosh look away turn off the tv quick TURN IT OFF NOW!”

Said categories are mainly for television, but they wash over for theater trips, too, of course.

Another thing I appreciate about “Monsters, Inc.” is that it didn’t rely on over-his-head-humor to do the job. Think “Shrek,” that was chocked full of innuendo and fart jokes…stuff lauded as appealing to older audiences while still sucking in the tots. That has its place, I suppose, but it makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I can’t help but wonder if I’m exposing my geekling to stuff he’s not ready for, stuff I’M not ready for him to be ready for.

That’s probably a different article, though.

Suffice it to say that I’m a fair-weather fan of most Pixar movies, and I like that my son is, too.

What do you think about kid movies these days? Does something have to appeal to you, too?

ASIDE: You know what else comes out on Friday? “World War Z.” So, since Friday’s my birthday, I should probably get to pick the movie we see, right? (Yes, I fully expect it to suck royally! The book is really good, and Brad Pitt has dead eyes –emotionless, empty eyes–. It’ll be terrible, but I still want to see it.) I’m sure my son would be fine with it.

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