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Monsters University - Review

Monsters University

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

PiIXAR’S belated return to the world of Monsters Inc is worth the wait, even if it is far from their best work.

Taking the form of a prequel, Monsters University tells the story of how loveable child frighteners Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) first came to meet.

They do this at the university of the title, presided over by the stern Dean Hardscrabble (Dame Helen Mirren), where their path towards friendship is far from smooth.

For starters, they hate each other. Where Mike has to strive to be noticed and is very much an outsider, Sully comes from a more privileged background and has a cavalier approach to learning that often comes at the expense of Mike.

After a row lands both of them in trouble and faced with expulsion, however, the duo are forced to team up with each other and a fellow team of no-hopers to prove they have what it takes to graduate.

Admittedly, Monsters University operates from within a tried and trusted genre: the high school coming-of-age comedy. And it does even pander to a lot of the inevitable cliches and subsequent life lessons.

But Dan Scanlon’s film is so colourful and heartfelt that it’s easy to ignore some of its lazier elements.
The central relationship between Mike and Sully remains endearing and is consistently nicely played by both Crystal and Goodman, while Mirren cuts a suitably imposing and no-nonsense authority figure.

There’s some colourful support too, from the likes of Steve Buscemi as Randy, Peter Sohn as Squishy and Nathan Fillion as Johnny Worthington, which also enables the animation teams’ collective imaginations to run riot.

And the set pieces are delivered with enough ingenuity and wit to keep viewers of all ages suitably amused and entertained.

Hence, while this latest Pixar offering lacks the sophistication and willingness to stand out from the crowd of many of its predecessors (Monsters Inc included) their consistent ability to effortlessly entertain remains intact. This is undemanding fun.

And, as ever, the short that precedes it (focusing on love-struck umbrellas in a big city) is as delightful as it is inspired.

Certificate: U
Running time: 104mins
UK Release Date: July 12, 2013