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‘Monsters University’ Reviews: Does The Prequel Live Up To The Original?

Sat, June 22, 2013 3:29pm EDT by 13 Comments
Monsters University Reviews
Courtesy of Pixar

Our favorite two lovable monsters finally came back on June 21 in ‘Monsters University,’ the sequel to ‘Monsters Inc.’ The original was such a huge hit, and Pixar flicks never disappoint — so did the sequel live up to the huge expectations?

Monsters University, the sequel — well, actually it’s a prequel — to Monsters Inc. hit theaters on June 21 with huge fanfare. Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) were finally back! Pixar has historically made great movies — just look at how many Oscars they’ve won — and they’ve been especially capable with sequel movies, so we certainly have high hopes for their newest installment. But let’s see what the critics had to say about Monsters University!

‘Monsters University’ Reviews

New York Times

The voices are pleasantly recognizable, and the details meticulously playful, like the jagged, teethlike contours of a building’s arched entrance. But the story remains disappointingly familiar, mired in recycled buddy movie dynamics and the usual child-developmental directives about finding yourself and learning to work well with others. Both the originality and stirring emotional complexity of Monsters, Inc., with its exquisitely painful and touching parallels with the human world, are missing, which might be a lot less noticeable if Pixar had taken some bold leaps elsewhere: like making a movie in which girls and women are as central to the story as the boys and men of Pixar, as crucial as Mike and Sulley, Nemo and Marlin, Andy and Buzz and the other creatures great and small and male.

Los Angeles Times

Remember the days when Pixar meant perfection? When you could count on its animation to amaze, its stories to sweep you up? Remember Up? Or the smooth ride in Cars? The Toy Story pals whose friendship was anything but plastic? The love among the ruins unearthed by Wall-E? A clownfish dad’s deep-sea desperation in Finding Nemo? What has happened to the memory makers who gave us all that? They are nowhere to be found at Monsters University, the latest shiny new movie to roll off what increasingly feels like the Disney-Pixar assembly line. Cars 2 certainly sputtered. Even Brave, which won the 2012 Oscar for animated feature, didn’t seem especially brave. Monsters University is not so much substandard. It just isn’t the Ivy League.

New York Magazine

Monsters University is funny, fast, and likable, with occasional moments of real visual surprise and laugh-out-loud offhand gags: A schlumpy school librarian turns into a looming, horrific mountain of evil upon hearing loud noises in her library; a sweet monster mom rolls up the car windows to be alone with her “tunes,” which turn out to be death metal; a mild-mannered freshman struggles to learn the true value of his tentacles. But much of this is low-hanging fruit — milking the brilliant conceit of the original movie for all it’s worth. Call it the harsh bigotry of insanely high expectations, but it’s hard not to feel a little let down by Monsters University. Perhaps only Pixar could give us such a rare beast: a delightful disappointment.

Washington Post

Until Monsters University, a new origin story set several years before the action of Monsters, Inc., [Pixar] had never attempted a prequel. You wonder what took them so long, because the characters Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are funny enough and their relationship rich enough to make the back story worth telling. The result is a charming addition to the Monsters canon.

New York Post

Monsters University is yet another play-it-safe cash grab that doesn’t aspire to come within light years of even the second tier of Pixar titles — including the three “Toy Story’’ films and the original “Cars’’ — all of which had genuine multigenerational appeal, if not quite the level of sophistication of the studio’s classics.

What? We’re — a disappointing Pixar movie? We’re clearly shocked. It seems Monsters University is — perhaps unfairly — being held up to the standards of classic animation movies, and it just doesn’t quite get there. That being said, a mediocre Pixar movie is likely better than most flicks, so it’s probably still worth catching. Will you see Monsters UniversityHollywoodLifers? Let us know!

WATCH: ‘Monsters University’ Trailer

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