Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) was always a small guy. And, quite frankly, he isn’t all that scary. No one thought he could ever succeed as a “Scarer.” He surprised everyone by getting into the Scarer program at Monsters University.
James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) is another story. He’s huge. He’s scary looking. He came from a long line of Scarers. It came naturally to him. Mike, on the other hand, worked hard. He studied. He practiced. But the head of the university, Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) didn’t find him scary either. She was sure he would never get through the entrance exam.
During the exam, rivals Mike and Sulley were practicing in the classroom. During a scuffle, they break open the canister that contained the dean’s record-breaking scream. They were both thrown out of the program.
Mike and Sulley’s only chance to get back into the program was to win the Scare Games, a competition among all the fraternities and sororities at the university to see who was the scariest. If they won, their entire fraternity would be allowed to enter the program. Unfortunately, the only sorority that would have them was a group of less than desirable monsters who had no chance of finishing the competition, let alone winning.
As with all prequels, we know where things are headed. We’ve already seen that Mike and Sulley become the best of friends. So you go in with some idea how the movie ends. The trick isn’t in arriving at the finish. It’s the journey that gets them there.
Monsters University is a classic story of polar opposites who start off as rivals, but somehow find a way to get past the rivalry. Typically, they end up inseparable. The story is one of knowing who you are and embracing it. Scaring doesn’t come easily to Mike. He has to work at it. And he excels at planning. Sulley thinks he doesn’t have to try and can simply rely on his assets. Both realize that they cannot make it through life alone.
Billy Crystal and John Goodman work well together. At least, as animated monsters. I’m not sure how well a live-action movie with the two would do. But it would be interesting. The rest of the cast is filled with actors who fill their roles well. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend half the movie trying to place that voice you know, but just can’t put your finger on it. It’s Nathan Fillion.
If you enjoyed Monsters Inc., you will like Monsters University. It doesn’t provide anything earth-shattering to the story. It’s a fun romp through the animated world that Disney and Pixar bring to life. Plus, your kids will love it.