Monsters University escapes the possibility of being a third strike in a row for Pixar by giving us the same great humor from Monsters, Inc. along with some great new concepts. It’s nowhere near being within the ranks of their best films to date, but it’s still an enjoyable hour-and-a-half.
Going back in time, we find Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) in college together. Their relationship begins on a sour note, both having different ideas about how scaring works. When they are both thrown out of Scaring School, they join a competition on the gamble that if they win, they can be allowed back in. Their new friends include an adult student named Don (Joel Murray), A young blob named Squishy (Peter Sohn), a double-headed monster, Terry and Terri (Dave Foley and Sean Hayes respectively) and a cylindrical hairball named Art (Charlie Day).
After Cars 2 and arguably Brave, I’ve been very skeptical about the future of Pixar. Knowing they would follow these up with another sequel to a Pixar film I’m frankly not a huge fan of made me weary. MU, however, reminded me why I enjoyed the original in the first place. It’s a fun-filled romp featuring two great characters who share a lot of chemistry together. This shows how their friendship grew, over time, and the pacing works out really well. Having a number of other interesting characters along for the ride creates a full and immersive experience.
The only issue I have with the film is that its experience really isn’t all that memorable. It’s a fun distraction, but it never sinks into your heat like the first or many other Pixar films have done. It’s hard to relate with scaring, which is the main goal of every character involved. It’s not something humans do, so it’s not something I found incredibly motivational. The film also feels as if it runs long. It’s only 95 minutes, but it sure feels like two hours. This is mainly due to them having their big last hoorah twenty minutes too early. What follows is fine, but it’s also the dramatic bit that Disney seems to think we need in every single movie they make. It brings the pacing to a grinding halt for a short while before giving us the true ending, which is sweet but undistinguished.
If you, like myself, have been waiting for Pixar to make something closer to their original standards, this is about as close as it gets without quite making it. It’s entertaining, to be sure, but it’s just as assuredly forgettable. And if you were planning on it, there is absolutely no reason to see this movie in 3D, so don’t bother.