Monsters University Review: Mike & Sulley go greek

The last Pixar film I watched was Brave. That movie was a big wet fart. It was pretty abysmal.

I say that out of love, of course, because I hold Pixar to insanely high standards. Standards that they themselves have established. And you know what? All studios should strive to be what Pixar is. We should all stand in agreement that any movie being made needs to blow us out of the water in order to be considered remotely worth making. For crying out loud, the budgets for some of these films could feed the entirety of Haiti for a year. Lets do better than Oblivion, movie industry. Let’s do better than After Earth. Let’s definitely do better than freaking World War Z (seriously, how can Brad Pitt even call it World War Z? IT IS NOT WORLD WAR Z.)

I digress.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is Pixar is like the Roger Federer of the movie industry. He  was always number one most consistent player. At his peak, you could go to a Federer game and watch him deliver time after time. And then, Roger Federer stumbled a little bit when Rafael Nadal got in the way (i.e. DISNEY). He tried adjusting his game, and as a result, lost a few tournaments (Brave and Cars 2 – CARS 2 – why the hell did they even make Cars 2?!)

This tennis metaphor isn’t really working out. In conclusion, Pixar has been shaky the last couple of years. I went into it not expecting all that much. But then, lo and behold, as I sat watching it unfold in the darkened theatre, Roger Federer delivered a pretty good game.

Monsters University tells the story of Mike Wazowski and James P Sullivan’s epic friendship. It focuses on widdle Mike Wazowski, who for all his life, dreamt of being a big bad scarer.

LOOK AT THAT CUTIE PATOOTIE

In a world where your entire self-worth is defined by your scaring-potential, Mike’s adorable little eye and adorable little frame set him at a significant disadvantage. Nevertheless, he buckled down, studied and studied, and got accepted into the prestigious Monsters University Scaring Programme.

Mike meets Sulley for the first time in the lecture hall, where the big blue oaf saunters in, cocksure and dismissive. James P. Sullivan is a legacy – people expect great things and he, at least on the surface, really delivers. He’s a naturally scary brute. However, over the course of the semester, his lazy arrogance leads to his own failure as he begins to be outstripped by the hard-working and studious Mike. Their competition comes to a head at their Semester Finals, where failure leads to automatic termination from the Scaring Programme.

Dean Hardscrabble, the ruthless Head of the Scaring Department, is unimpressed by Sully’s lack of commitment and Mike’s lack of general scariness which leads to her personally dismissing them both from the Scaring Programme.

Helen Mirren voices Hardscrabble. She really is the scariest dragon-lady. The clicking of her centipedal feet made my skin crawl and gave me heart palpitations. She’s Severus Snape in centipede-dragon hybrid-cross form.

The ultimate boggart in the wardrobe.

Devastated, Mike is determined to get back into the programme no matter what. He finds inspiration in MU’s annual Scare Games – a competition between the fraternities/sororities to prove who is the scariest monster of them all. Mike masterminds a very public wager with Hardscrabble for his place back in the Scaring Programme if he wins the Scare Games. Of course, he needs a frat team to do so which leads him to joining ultimate loser frat, Oozma Kappa, and reluctantly accepting Sulley as their final team member. If they win, Hardscrabble accepts the entire team into the Scaring Programme. If they lose, Mike and Sulley leave MU forever. (I can’t imagine any university dean pulling that shit in real life, but I suppose, the rules are different when you’re a dragon-winged insectoid nightmare.)

This is where it gets interesting. The Pixar team clearly put a lot of effort into crafting these hugely fun scenarios, integrating the best of their natural Pixarian storytelling genius with some creative Dreamworkian intertextuality. From here onward, it was a bit like that TV show, Greek, meets The House Bunny, except instead of hot Emma Stone in some ugly-girl spectacles, you have a bunch of awkward monster misfits. Folks, meet Oozma Kappa:

It took more than a push-up bra and some mascara to fix these weirdos. It was quite heart-warming seeing them band together as they tried to conquer the Scare Games. Anyway, shan’t spoil it, but it’s pretty frickin’ adorable.

Then of course, you have the rest of Greek Row:

The Jocks (a.k.a. the morons that use performance enhancers)

The Goths (a.k.a. the witch coven from The Craft)

The Southern Belles (a.k.a. Elle Woods and The Bitches in Pink)

And finally, the Slytherins to our Gryffindors (if Gryffindor was kinda loserish like Hufflepuff, that is):

The Privileged Legacies (a.k.a. the assholes that hang with people like the Winklevoss Twins)

Yeah, thats right – look closely at the Roar Omega Roar picture and you’ll see a special guest appearance by resident dickbag, Randall Boggs. Its kinda sad – Randall wasn’t always the Draco Malfoy of Monster World. You’ll see why if you GO WATCH THIS FILM.

While not as heart-warming or as thoughtful as Monsters, Inc, Monsters University is hugely entertaining and engaging. It explores the touching relationship that develops between misfit best friends, Mike and Sully, while shining spotlight on the oft-overlooked Mike Wazowski. He is the brains of bunch and its high time that he got a little credit.

VERDICT: Go watch it if you’re a passionate believer in a mighty good comeback! It ain’t ground-breaking, but its a super fun ride. If this is any indication of the future, I expect Pixar will be back on top very soon. Don’t let Disney stamp out your light, Pixar!

BONUS – check out the impossibly cool website that they’ve created for Monsters University. Its more comprehensive than my university’s website. Freaking hell, they even have a merch store! Who DOESN’T want a four-armed hoodie?! So when are they accepting applications? I’m looking for a good uni to go to after I matriculate from Hogwarts.

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One thought on “Monsters University Review: Mike & Sulley go greek

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