Monsters University is the latest in Pixar’s recent trend of sequels. But does it reach the acclaim of Toy Story 2 & 3, or does it reach for the lowest common denominator like Cars 2? As you might expect, the monsters fall somewhere in middle, with the toys pulling them closer to their end of the spectrum.
In Monster’s U, we get a prequel which seems Mike and Sully going to college to become scarers. What this basically boils down to is rip on the college comedy genre, headed up by Animal House in the late 70s. The basic formula is followed pretty closely as the main characters have to help the uncool sorority of misfits rise up. And while this can be clever, it also causes a bit of a lull in the middle of the show.
What makes this movie worth watching however is the budding relationship between Mike and Sully. Yes, we already know they end up becoming best friends, but their journey to get there is actually quite interesting and feels very natural in its progress. There is a scene where they sneak into Monsters Inc. to inspire their frat brothers, and you finally get a sense that they understand each other..
But the reason this movie really steps it up to almost Toy Story level it that it actually has a message, as we’ve been accustomed to by past Pixar films. The message here is not to get hung up on the common ideas of success in society, but to find success based on your own personal qualities and strengths. I love that they went for this theme, since its not really something that is talked about in a world where if you aren’t a CEO or rich or famous in some way you are considered a failure. Not everyone is going to be an astronaut or a rock star, but they can still be great.