Monsters Inc. predates my life as a parent by several years. I reckon the genesis of your relationship with Pixar’s 2001 animated gem isn’t radically different.
It was the first family movie I remember loving. I was 25 years old.
It should go without saying that it was damn near impossible for me not to bring my adoration-baggage of the Incorporated classic into the theater this past weekend as I held hands with two daughters, each hyper-eager to spend another 90 minutes with their pals Sulley & Mike.
Monsters University, which takes place not as far removed from the scare floor as you might imagine, is a marvelous film, playing as a more colorful, and less crude, Revenge of the Nerds, and duplicating all of the cuteness and snappy humor of Inc. even without the cuteness catalyst of that movie, Boo. I was curious about a few things going in to Monsters University, namely: how would Boo be replaced, not in-kind of course, but her unique lovableness quotient that gave Monsters Inc. its beating heart. The answer: toddler Mike Wazowski! Sure, he only plays a role for the first handful of minutes but his sweetness remains in your head and heart throughout. And it was a couple of his lines that I heard my girls parroting as we drove home from the cineplex. Young Wazowski’s appearance, however brief, also sets up for a Muppet Baby-esque prequel to the prequel. Who wouldn’t pay $10 to see little Mikey’s kindergarten years on the big screen?
Regarding the other hurdle: college life on screen with little kids in the theater. How would the stereotypical college daze be presented for children? Not an issue, as it turns out, because Disney and Pixar danced their way nimbly through partying scenes, frat house initiation, and mild hazing, while dorm room life was almost non-existent (where did that disco ball scene from the preview go?) You don’t miss anything. The action, the competitive story arc, first between Sulley and Mike, and then between frat and sorority houses hits the mark, and the emotional payoff which brings the audience right back to Monsters Inc. is executed nearly without a flaw.
***Possible Spoiler Alert — Do Not Read Further If You Haven’t Seen The Movie Yet***
Monsters University, while taking place during first semester of freshman year on a college campus for 85% of the movie, is a not-so-subtle advertisement for not going to college. What eventually happens to our heroes is a radical change of scholastic plans that pivots into an example of working your ass off and striving for greatness to achieve your goals. I plan to revisit my Case Against College Saving through the lens of Monsters U. in the near future. Because, why not?
Oh! And not that you’d show up late, but be sure to arrive in time and ready to bliss out during Pixar’s animated short film, The Blue Umbrella. It’s magical, joyous, and lovely, but the Bear whispered it best in the theater: “that was beautiful.” Indeed it was, sweetheart, indeed it was.