We don’t go to the movies often, but Pixar movies are are never missed in the Toy household. So last Saturday, Sarabeth and I went on a date to see Pixar’s newest film, Monsters University.
You’ll recall 2001’s Monsters Inc. being about monsters, but there was nothing scary about it (which actually made it even more brilliant). The prequel however, capitalizes on the scare factor, especially in the dark and phenomenal third act. I’m not sure how it received a G rating – just make sure your four year olds are okay with monsters creeping beside sleeping children’s bedsides.
And, actually, the above point is a compliment. I loved how much darker this movie was (though not quite Toy Story 3 dark, but definitely scarier). But upping the fear factor isn’t the only risk Pixar takes in Monsters University. The message itself is very bold, which serves as yet another strength for the film.
We all remember growing up watching animated movies tell us that we can be anything we want to be if we just believe enough and blah, blah, blah. Well, Ratatouille was the first film to tell children otherwise. “Not everyone can be a great cook…” A few more Pixar movies hinted at these harsh truths, then Disney itself started to jump on the truth-bandwagon (once Lasseter took the helm, it seems) with Wreck it Ralph (he still had to play the bad guy at the end of the movie).
Monsters University comes out and just says it: You might not be good enough at what you want to do; your dreams might not actually come true.
And I love that! It’s the truth every kid needs to hear but few people are brave enough to tell them.
As for the film itself, it won’t likely be my immediate go-to when I need a Pixar fix on a rainy day (it falls somewhere between Cars and Wall-e), but it was far worth our admission price. The jokes were slick and continuous, the story was fluid and engaging and if you liked Sulley and Mike in the first movie, you’ll absolutely fall in love with them in this one.
The new cast of characters is enjoyable and a welcome addition to the Pixar family (I especially liked Art, the dim-witted hippy). And Dan is a monster any man stuck in a dead-end job can relate to.
So the big question is: is it better than Monsters Inc.? Well, I’ll have to watch it a couple more times when I get it for my birthday in November (another tradition in our house) before I make that decision. (In my experience, Pixar movies get better with age, so I expect MU will be no different.) But I can say that it makes the original Monsters sweeter, and gives it more substance than it already had (as if it lacked any to begin with).
Can’t wait to revisit Monsters University, especially with kids. We’ll just hold them extra tight during the scary scenes, and those will be great memories to look back on in years to come. Go see it and let me know what you think!