Friday, November 29, 2013

Monsters University on DVD

Though I liked Monsters, Inc. when it came out (hard to believe it's been 12 years!), I was not in a hurry to see Monsters University. Maybe it's because the movie is a sequel (technically prequel), and in the animation business, sequels are usually made for the kiddies, unfortunately translating into cheaper rehashes of the same old thing, when what worked the first time was its very newness.

I'm happy to report that Monsters University is its own thing, and it's not old at all. For starters, it's a prequel rather than a sequel, so there's no baggage or fallout from the first movie to deal with. Anything can happen in a prequel. You don't even need the same characters, and we get to see a lot of fun, new characters (in addition to one or two old ones with minor roles that nod cleverly to the movie we are already familiar with).

As for the story itself, is it just a ho-hum copy? Mike and Sully are still Mike and Sully, though younger, more flawed version of themselves...but oh yeah, they aren't friends. The rest of the plot is fabulous monster world stuff, but different than we've seen before. Different and similar, because the setting is a university, and while that may be different for us to view in Mike and Sully's world, it feels just like what most of us are familiar with from our world.

And where Monsters, Inc. surprised us with a different look at the world behind our closet doors, Monsters University digs deeper to surprise us with what it means to go through life the untraditional way. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I won't give details. But the end went in a direction that was pleasantly different than what I was expecting.

There is one disclaimer I have about both Monsters movies. Though rated G, they aren't necessarily for young kids, who are so impressionable and who happen to be just like the real kids in the stories: afraid of the monsters under their beds. I don't let my toddler and preschooler see them yet, and I'll probably wait at least another couple of years. Aside from that, I think these movies are great for select children and adults alike: silly and fun enough for the kids, thematically mature enough for the adults.

So, is Monsters University a good sequel/prequel worthy of our time and love like its counterpart? With some of the best of what made Monsters, Inc. unique and also a few significant changes, I would venture to say yes. It's another worthy Pixar film with Pixar's signature stamp of beautiful animation and unique storytelling. Put it on your shelf.

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