Monsters University

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monsters uI understand that not every Pixar movie can be Up or Toy Story. Yet, if they’re going to be like the last two, there’s really no reason to ever get excited by the name Pixar attached to the picture.

Cars 2 was awful. And Brave had beautiful graphics and fun voices, but didn’t have a good story.

This movie has some decent visuals, but they take the Revenge of the Nerds story, mix in a little bit of Rudy, and have hardly any laughs. This means the film is really just geared to kids 12 and under. The strange thing about the lack of laughs is that I heard Billy Crystal in an interview talking about how often he and John Goodman ad-libbed with alternate takes. After the last Crystal movie and his last time hosting the Oscars — I have to conclude he just isn’t funny anymore.

Perhaps the screenwriters could go back to college and take a film writing class or two. The three writers biggest previous film was Cars.

The graphic artists did their part. They created monsters that were fun to look at. A few of them even looked like the actors voicing them – John Goodman as the big, blue, furry Sully, Steve Buscemi as a bug with bulging eyes…but Billy Crystal was an eyeball, not a nose.

We’ve come to expect great storytelling and clever jokes from Pixar. Instead, we got college clichés that should’ve been able to work with the furry and slimy bunch of monsters, but didn’t.

The story starts with Mike (Billy Crystal) having a tour of a monster’s scare factory, and a few of the workers rib each other over which university is the best. Mike decides Monster’s U is for him. He has the intelligence, but he’s more of an oddball eyeball, than a scary one. Sully (John Goodman) has a fearsome yell, but isn’t the brightest bulb. He also comes from a long and illustrious line of scary monsters.

The two initially dislike each other, but have to team up when it looks like they might not cut it in class.

This is a prequel that was unnecessary, but had a promising premise. Of course, knowing that they’ll work together means you won’t have the tension of wondering if these underdogs will turn out okay when the chips are down.

I really only remember laughing one time. It was at the visual of a snail trying to quickly get to class when the ball rings.

Speaking of unnecessary, why assemble such a great cast and merely waste them on unfunny lines?

Helen Mirren is interesting as the tough Dean Hardscrabble. One of the funniest men on the planet, Kids in the Hall member Dave Foley (Cats, A Bug’s Life), doesn’t do much. We also got to hear Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Aubrey Plaza, Julie Sweeney, John Krasinski, Bonnie Hunt, Bill Hader, Jennifer Tilly, and John Ratzenberger as the yeti. What I loved about hearing him near the end of the film, is this interesting fact. I once read a list that showed the actors that have been in the movies that have made the most money at the box office. All the usual names were there: Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy. Yet you see Ratzenberger’s name, and it takes a second to realize that Cliff the mailman from Cheers, has done movies that combined have made almost $6,600,000,000. In the early days he was in things like Gandhi, Superman I and II, before making billions in the animated films (and their sequels) Monsters Inc, Cars, WALL-E, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Up, The Incredibles, Brave, A Bug’s Life, etc.

With this movie, that’s easily going to make $100 million, Ratzenberger will move up a notch on the list.

I’m not sure why the movie will make so much, it’s another film that had flat 3D. The best thing was the short you see before it called The Blue Umbrella. It apparently wasn’t attracted to black umbrellas, and makes a risky move trying to catch a red one that was heading in the opposite direction. It’s the best use of umbrellas since Singing in the Rain.

This movie gets an extra half star for the short, giving it 1 ½ out of 5.

blue umbrella


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