Having so recently left the student domain, we here at Tantrum have an affinity for the student population. Not that we want to go back, you understand – but watching others go through the same rites of passage we did is a kind of divine retribution.
That being said, we don’t remember having half as much fun as it looks like they do at Monsters University. This is definitely a movie catering primarily to those fans who were children at the time Monsters Inc. was released – or at least, it will mean most to that particular demographic.
Assimilating popular American college stereotypes into a movie about animated monsters was always going to have its difficulties, but the subject matter is handled with aplomb. Prequels are also notoriously tricky, but the developing friendship between Mike and Sully is done deftly enough for it to become believable.
Okay, the movie isn’t groundbreaking in the way its predecessor was, and the opening sequence relies heavily on both prior affection for Mike and the nostalgia of the scare floor of Monsters Inc. This doesn’t make it bad – far from it. It’s an easy introduction, grounding the characters in the new environment of the university.
The stand out character for us in the film has to be Dean Hardscrabble, voiced by the perfectly chilling Helen Mirren. Just listening to the sound effects as she moves around the classroom was enough to give us the shivers, even if we hadn’t all remembered having a teacher just like her in our school careers. As with all kids movies, there is no such thing as an irredeemable villain – but you’re going to have to wait to find out just what redemption is offered.
Message wise, Monsters University does bring something new. The idea that university isn’t the only way to succeed in life and that hard work does pay off is incredibly important – as is the very clear statement that we can’t all be brilliant at everything. As they say in A Very Potter Musical, okay isn’t just good, okay is wonderful – and we feel that kids and adults alike could do with being reminded of that fact.
In short, if you liked Monsters Inc., you'll like this. Another example of how Pixar's animation is some of the best around, with familiar characters and a lesson actually worth listening to - just don't expect it to revolutionise your life. As the film itself says - average is worthwhile.