2013-06-21

Monsters University – Pixar Produces the Perfect Prequel

by Yo Snyder

Few thing are as difficult as pulling off a really good
prequel, especially when it’s for a truly beloved movie. So, when Pixar
announced a prequel for Monsters Inc.,
I was skeptical at best. Plus, let’s be honest, outside of the Toy Story movies,
Pixar hasn’t really done well with franchises, and their track record hasn’t
exactly be superb the past couple of years with a couple of movies that were
good but not really great. Put that all together and there was really no reason
to expect that Monsters University
would be any good. Well I’m relieved to say it is. In fact it’s really good. In
fact, it’s Pixar’s best movie in years, a worthy companion to Monsters Inc. and probably my favorite
comedy in the past few years. Pixar did it; they produced the perfect prequel.

There are a lot of difficulties in putting together a really
good prequel, among them being that the audience pretty much knows how
everything turns out. We know where these characters ultimately end up, and
while it seems like it should be interesting to find out how they got there and
where they came from, that isn’t always the case (I’m looking at you Star Wars
prequels). In this instance, however, Pixar proves that it can be done. Yes, we
know that Mike and Sully are good friends who work in Monsters Inc. later on,
but in this film, it’s actually interesting and a lot of fun to see how they
get there. This is mainly because Pixar keeps subverting our expectations; you
may think you know how things are going to go, but they keep subtly taking
things in a different and unexpected direction. You really do root for these
guys to get over themselves, stop being jerks and start being friends; and when
that moment finally comes, not only is it really satisfying, but it just makes
you feel good.

Speaking of feeling good, that’s what this movie does; it
just makes you feel good. We’re used to Pixar crafting emotionally engaging
stories with humor in them, but Monsters U
is probably the purest comedy they’ve ever done. There’s still some good heart
in it, but this isn’t a movie to tug on your heart strings as much as it is to
tickle your funny bone. This film is just funny. From beginning to end, it’s
filled with laughs for everyone of all ages. Some may think the film is lacking
without any really tear-jerking moments, but it’s just as much to make a
consistently funny and high quality comedy as it is to craft something really
emotional, and Pixar has already proven they know how to do the emotional stuff
while here they show they can also tell a really good story that’s just
straight-up funny.

Most of the story focuses on how Mike is determined to be
the best scarer ever despite one slight drawback; he isn’t really scary. He can
study all he wants and learn all there is about scaring, but the fact remains
he just isn’t scary. For Mike, that means he can’t really fulfill his purpose;
or so he thinks. I’ll let you watch the film to find out how that’s all
resolved, all I’ll say here is that eventually he learns that he doesn’t just
have to accept being merely “okay”. And so it is with us. We weren’t made to be
mediocre. Our destiny isn’t to be just so-so. We were made for great things.
The problem is sometimes we don’t understand how to achieve the great things we
were meant for. We think we need to do it all on our own, and when we realize
we can’t, it can be discouraging and make us feel like perhaps just “okay” is
the best we’ll ever be. That’s not what Jesus said. “Very truly I tell you,
whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do
even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around doing even greater things than what Jesus
did, but he’s the one who said it. The point is we can’t do that without him.
We can’t achieve the greatness were made for on own, with our own knowledge,
with our own strength. However, with Jesus, with all that he’s already done for
us, we can…well, to borrow a phrase, we can be all we can be. You were created
to be more than just okay; never forget that.

Monsters U is
Pixar’s best movie in several years, and one of the funniest most enjoyable
comedies in recent years. It reminds
us why Pixar is so highly regarded; they achieved one of those true rare movie feats:
a really good prequel that actually adds something to characters we already
know rather than feeling unnecessary. There’s a moment toward the end where I
was a little worried because it seemed like they were taking a rather clichéd and
familiar route, but then the flip it all around and go in an entirely different
direction instead of taking the easy way out. That is the brilliance of Pixar.
Not to mention the setting of the final big sequence, which is one of the most
brilliant and enjoyable ideas I’ve seen in some time. Anyone familiar with
horror films will know exactly what I’m talking about. Monsters University is funny, enjoyable, endearing and it has
Nathan Fillion as the BMoC; so yeah, it pretty much has everything. If you’re
looking for right summer movie to take the whole family to, once again Pixar
has delivered just what you’re looking for. When Mikey met Sully is a
delightful film for the whole family to enjoy together.

Score 6 of 7: Monsters
University
is just fun for the whole family. Just because a film is rated G
doesn’t mean it’s just for kids. Pixar proves that once again with smart,
enjoyable comedy that parents will enjoy as much as their kids. Plus it looks
great, but the 3D is probably unnecessary, so save a few bucks.