Sunday, 14 July 2013

Film Review: Monsters University (2013)

Director: Dan Scanlon
Screenplay: Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird and Dan Scanlon
Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Helen Mirren

Here is a film full of fun, charm, ingenuity, and genuine love for its characters. What a delightful change of direction from a summer release in a year which has disappointed film after film; thank you, Pixar!

Set in the years before Pixar’s best film to date (in this reviewer’s opinion), Monsters Inc, we join best pals Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan in their university days which led them on their path to becoming professional Scarers; the difference is, they weren’t always the best of friends. Needless to say, the road to friendship isn’t easy at first but we all know how it will turn out, and that is all part of the fun.

The story of this sequel/prequel isn’t overly strong and follows the typical university clich├ęs we’re all used to (jocks vs geeks, flunking classes, threat of expulsion, fitting in with the ‘in’ crowd) but it’s not been developed into a world like this before and the attention to detail which went into making this world come to life cannot be given enough praise. All of the human elements which are given a monster twist really hit the mark; books on scare tactics and the history of scaring, the football team with massive monsters steamrolling over the smaller ones, the dull classes for building scream-catching jars, the different kind of scaring criteria based on a child’s location and fears; they all bring the film to life in a brilliantly vibrant way.

Although Monsters University may not have the flow and natural plot progression of the first film, and suffers in terms of creativity when you look at the rather mechanical way it goes from point A to B to C, the film is undeniably enjoyable from start to finish, and delivers noticeably more laughs than the first film. Moreover, this packs in far more genuine laughs than most live-action comedies this reviewer has seen for many years and that is credit to the writers for striking a balance that both children and adults can enjoy, whilst seldom relying on sight gags to get easy laughs for very young viewers.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: The animation is flawless as you would expect, the celebrity voices lend themselves to actually create a character rather than just to have their names on the poster to sell the movie, and the score by Randy Newman is delightful but different from the first film. Everything adds up in Monsters University to make it one of the most enjoyable film experiences of the year to date and is a sheer joy to watch from beginning to end, even after the credits have finished so stay in your seats.

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