THE DYESSERTATION: ‘Monsters University’ proves vibrant but lackluster

The Daily News

John Goodman and Billy Crystal are the voices of Sully and Mike in "Monsters University." MCT PHOTO
John Goodman and Billy Crystal are the voices of Sully and Mike in "Monsters University." MCT PHOTO

Monsters University — spoilers are contained within

Ashley Dye is a senior journalism and telecommunications major and writes ‘The Dyessertation’ for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the paper or The Daily. Write to Ashley at

“Monsters University” adds a colorful new film to the canon, but one that lacks the punch of a Pixar movie.

After waiting for 12 years to see this movie, and with the success of “Toy Story 3,” I had high hopes.

As a college student, it felt like “Monsters University” could bring out some more adult lessons in a children’s movie that are immediately applicable.

But prequels, just like sequels, can be hard.

With a run time of 103 minutes, I found myself wanting more out of the film but not necessarily time. Where was the true charm? It lacked the originality expected with a Pixar film.

“Monsters University” had most of the right ingredients, though. 

True to form, there were many humorous scenes. The scene where Ms. Squibbles — the sweet mother of Squishy and No. 1 fan of the Oozma Kappas — jams out to death metal in her car is certainly one of them. 

We also get insight on why Randall holds such a grudge against Mike and Sully. When we first meet “Randy,” he wears circular purple glasses until Mike suggests he takes them off and in an instant, we see him transform to the angry looking, squinty-eyed Randall of “Monsters, Inc.” 

But when it came to being emotionally invested in the film, when I was searching for that moment where everything falls apart and it feels like Pixar’s one true goal in life is to make you sob at a children’s movie, it came up short. 

That’s not to say that the film didn’t have a lesson, however, it was the slightly tired one of learning to work with others and getting along. 

The conflict that the film missed out on truly exploring was the bubbling tension between Mike’s study hard personality and Sully’s natural talent coupled with a family name. 

While the two are hiding from humans in the woods, Mike finally addresses the situation after Sully tries comforting him for his lack of scariness and says he knows how Mike feels.

“Don’t do that, please don’t do that,” Mike shouts. “You do not know how I feel.”

Right there, Pixar hits it. This is not Mike hosting a pity party. His whole life, he had studied hard to get where he was to find out that there are some things you can’t be taught and definitely not in a book. He sees Sully as a monster with the look and raw talent to scare with the Sullivan family name that allowed him to coast through life. Mike can’t achieve that.

It shows that passion isn’t always enough. With the end result getting Mike to Monsters, Inc., through a much longer path, it shows that perhaps he wasn’t truly failing. It just took a different route.

But after that instant, it seems like it snaps back to the line of “work with each other despite differences.” This is an important lesson but one that made for a too calculable storyline that lacked any risks. 

Still, it was visually stunning — a vast improvement from 12 years ago — and had a witty script. It gives us a vibrant view of their world before “Monsters, Inc.” If your heart didn’t melt after seeing a young Mike with braces and an oversized Monsters University hat fresh out of witnessing his first scare, I don’t trust you.

If one were to judge it without the standards expected of Pixar, maybe there wouldn’t be as much disappointment. 

However, it’s true that most mediocre Pixar films are better than other movies. For fans of “Monsters, Inc.,” it’s worth seeing. 

But don’t be surprised if you leave the theaters feeling a little empty — and not in that “I just cried my eyes out so I have no more within me” way. 




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