the more understated strings
in the bow of animation giant Pixar are the moral lessons that their
provide to audiences. In 2001 Monsters,
Inc. introduced us to Mike and Sully, two monsters that were part
corporation where monsters could travel through teleportation doors and
of children to scare them so that their screams would power their
were also seen as dangerous outsiders until the business learnt that
is a more successful for increasing production. Overcoming our fears,
taking and laughter are lessons that the animation studio itself taught
embraced on its own.
have again upheld this
optimistic, moral outlook because Monsters
University is a celebration of diversity and learning your
The film is a prequel to the 2001 film, with Billy Crystal and John
reprising their roles as monsters Mike and Sully, who are not friends
college rivals learning the trade of scaring and hoping to be accepted
into Monsters, Inc.
will give parents an
opportunity to talk to their children about the subject of college in a
positive outlook. In American there has rarely been a more important
have this conversation. The Huffington Post wrote in April that there
already been thirteen college shootings this year. In 2007 thirty-two
were shot dead at Virginia Tech. Though never short of funding, the
education system also still produces consistently subpar performances.
Countering these pillars of fear and tension, Monsters
University captures the emotions of college life and then gleefully
of the film is the
friendship of Mike and Sulley, who represent contrasting attitudes in
study life. Mike is hardworking, ambitious and by the book but also
outcast and a loner. He wants to be the sole leader. Sulley is
and coasts off his family name as a Sullivan. He's bigger, more
and popular than Mike and expects everything will come through his
ability and that he doesn't need to study. After making a bet with Dean
Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), they're thrown together into a Scare Games
contest, where they reluctantly band together, along with other loners,
a series of challenges to stay enrolled in the college.
played against the other
rival fraternity houses gives the film a story structure that is not
to The Internship. Unlike that film
though, you actually care dearly about the characters. This is one of
greatest strengthens, not just as animators but as filmmakers. Each of
characters, including a middle-aged student and a two-headed dancer,
understand each other's strengths and how to use these in the tasks.
be viewed as a generic 'be
yourself' message but in the context of a college setting its
sensible because college should be a place where people learn their own
and can take unexpected detours and still succeed. For those assuming
this is a
derivative underdog story, there is a huge point of conflict in this
coupled with Pixar's trademark lump in the throat moments, as the story
into its darker unexpected final act.
director of the film was Dan
Scanlon, who worked as a storyboard artist for Pixar on Cars.
He graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design with a
Bachelor of Fine Arts and in his first Pixar film as director he has
visual skills exceptionally. The film is hysterically funny, partly due
wit but also the number of sight gags on display.
University itself resembles
a proper college, with lecture rooms, dorms and orientation stalls, and
this detail to reference old college films and campus stereotypes. I
liked the variety
in the monster designs, like how one of the students had a moustache
like a vampire bat or the gothic monster that had spikes coming out of the microphone she was holding. Dan Scanlon
also controls the beats of the story so that there are breathing spaces
the challenges and that action sequences are brisk and never overlong.
films now are bigger and
louder, but with little to say. Monsters
University is a rare blockbuster that could teach audiences
film is about learning to accept fear and failure, while remaining
about change and growth through our different skills. Pixar's personal
is that their films are still as simulating as they are funny and