Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monsters’ University

A competent family film that’s visually gorgeous, 
but tired in its storytelling 

Mike and Sully on Their Way to College
     Monsters’ University does not need a review from us since it’s made plenty of money, received a lot of attention, and has been around a few weeks already.  With a charming tone and a highly detailed visual style that are hallmarks of Pixar, it’s a good movie, but not a great one.  The plot is borrowed from Revenge of the Nerds, but it adds an extra act.  Though this leads a reversal that viewers will be hoping for, it does add about fifteen minutes.  This was about ten minutes too much and one young viewer, who’d behaved perfectly during the movie, got up and left, followed quickly by his mother.  

Dexter in the Dorm with Mike and Sully
     A major recurring theme for the Pixar movies has been the main group of characters’ search for a shared identity that will sustain them and be important for others.  In this instance, as a backstory to Monsters, Inc., we’re led through what inspired Mike and Sully to become friends and end up at Monsters, Inc.  Mike is a very poignant character, but this doesn’t have the emotional variety or depth of the Toy Story series.  The seen it before sense of the story keeps it from being as electrifying as The Incredibles, which merged a family of superheroes forced into middle-class mediocre conformity with overtones of one of the early James Bond movies without recycling its entire plot. 

     With all of the current debate over the expense and worth of a college degree, a movie whose main focus is the college milieu and culture surrounding it surprisingly suggests that the two principal characters don’t need degrees if they’re extraordinarily talented and willing to work extremely hard.  That myth has resulted in many smart people not achieving
Headmistress Hardscrabble
the success they thought was their due at eighteen or nineteen.  However, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Helen Mirren perform yeoman voice work.   

Water Splashes in The Blue Umbrella
     The short opener, The Blue Umbrella, is an updated urban version of something that feels like a children’s fable or myth.  Technically, it demonstrates Pixar working at a new level, especially in its photorealistic approach to water and metallic surfaces.  We haven’t yet seen human faces that are realistic, but they’re on their way.

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