Monsters University Screen 10 articles

Monsters University

2013

Monsters University Poster
  • ...Monsters University isn’t interested in breaking new ground. This is a fun little film with a better film struggling to get out – caught between current, child-friendly Pixar and earlier, more grown-up Pixar, just as it’s caught between college and middle school.

  • The fundamental problem with Monsters University is a lack of focus. Uni operates on a much grander scale than Inc — the work that has gone into populating an entire campus with an array of new and ingeniously anthropomorphised characters is staggering — but at the same time it feels far too constricted to its setting.

  • If the film lacks the heartbreaking quality of Pixar’s revolutionary best, there’s no demerit in playing it solid and safe for a change. Adult fans of horror will love the idea of a fearsome school of hard knocks, Hogwartsian for sure, but with its own under-the-bed growl.

  • When University deals with that pathos, it feels like the old Pixar, full of heart and predictably stunning animation. But too much revolves around standard-issue college plots like a crusty old dean and competition with a jerky frat. As in the human world, where our heroes get stranded for a too-short sequence, it’s a waste of University to spend it partying.

  • Execution matters. Verve, and energy, and inventiveness matter. AndMonsters University is funny, fast, and likable, with occasional moments of real visual surprise and laugh-out-loud offhand gags... But much of this is low-hanging fruit — milking the brilliant conceit of the original movie for all it’s worth. Call it the harsh bigotry of insanely high expectations, but it’s hard not to feel a little let down by Monsters University.

  • While it’s a visual enchantment (there’s a knockout compendium of horror film clichés), its reversion to a largely male domain after “Brave,” its first and only female-driven story, is a drag. If it takes a while to notice, it’s because Mr. Scanlon and his team have created a seductive world that blends photorealistic details... with impressionistic swaths and hyperbolic character designs, using a palette that’s heavy on purple and pink and flecked with orange, yellow and green.

  • If Monsters Universityfeels like a minor Pixar effort, it’s because its appeal hinges almost entirely on viewers’ established affection for Mike and Sully. Echoing but rarely enriching the pleasures of the original, the film is a charming footnote. Pixar can and has done better. Having now made a prequel, a couple sequels, and an old-school princess adventure, perhaps it’s time John Lasseter and company got back in the business of exploring new worlds.

  • As much you can appreciate all the astounding visual wit (the half-smile a young Mike makes after he impressed everyone with his scream, a batwing mustache, the mosaic tiling of one character's skin), there's nothing here as cinematically inspired as the galaxy of doors in the climax of the 2001 original. But the care put into the satire of college life is actually kind of moving.

  • This one is overtly about privilege: how schools and jobs are tipped in favor of people, er, monsters of certain ages and appearances, from certain families or backgrounds. And though it's a good theme for a what's more-or-less a kids' movie, its handling here isn't exactly going to work for an adult viewer who knows that "hard work" doesn't make institutionalized systems go away.

  • It's not deep, nor is it trying to be, but its goals are numerous and varied, and it achieves every of them with grace. If you've ever seen a sports picture, you know how things have to go, and the movie hits every beat you'd expect; but it never arrives via the most obvious route, and it's so attuned to the way modern audiences watch genre films that there are times when it seems to anticipate our objections and tease them out so that it can answer them later, to our satisfaction and delight.

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