Disney-Pixar’s new film “Monsters University” opens in theaters today. But I want to make sure you see this movie. To help you decide, I want to give you ten reasons why this film is the movie to see over that other one with that guy who’s always eating on camera and married with 13 kids.
After a long wait following the first film, the studio finally decided on a concept that was worthy of doing: watching James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) meet for the first time in college on their way to becoming Monstrolopolis’ best scare team.
Without spoiling the entire movie, I want to give you seven reasons “Monsters University” is the top choice…
1. Special Effects
Have you seen the trailers to that other movie? The one with Mr. Jolie? The people look like salmon swimming upstream. And they have REAL PEOPLE in the movie. ACTUAL PEOPLE.
You know what’s even more difficult? Making a movie entirely from scratch: the universe, the people, the lighting — EVERYTHING. “Monsters University” has effects and visual art in spades. The attention details makes the fantasy so real you believe, more than ever, these characters and this world exists.
Also, they have a new technology that is so filmic and nuanced, you want to shake hands with the cinematographer.
2. Have A Good Time
Frankly, I don’t want to watch my world go up flames right now, and in my mood I could use something that makes me laugh. Something with heart. I’d rather see something that has a few less zombies. I’m zombie enough for both movies.
Every day, we see things that scare us. “Monsters University” reminds us that fear can be harnessed and understood. If we only knew the monsters under our bed, and were courageous enough to examine our fears, we could master them.
3. Mike Wazowski is Way Hotter than Brad Pitt
I’m waiting for the “Sexiest Man Alive” cover to display Mike Wazowski. He isn’t the first green-eyed monster worthy of jealousy. Brad Pitt is so 1995 and 2000. Mike is 2013. He is both confident and talented. Sure, Brad has the height, the hair, two eyes, and everything else. But Wazowski is one of my son’s favorite characters. Mike is a charmer. I start to smile just hearing Finn say his name. Have your kids say “Mike Wazowski” and it will brighten your day.
I’ve heard Sulley is dating Jessica Biel.
4. Learning from Fear, Not Absence of Fear
I spoke to the film’s director, Dan Scanlon, about the use of fear in a kid’s movie like this one. Amongst the dad community, we’ve debated the purpose of fear in films.
Me: “What part does fear or scariness play in making a movie intends for kids, but appealing to adult audiences?”
Scanlon: “I think initially we always sort of make these movies for ourselves, and our own families in mind as the gauge. It is a tricky movie when you’re dealing with the issue of fear. The monsters are still these sort of fun characters. And even when there’s intimidating monsters like (Dean Hardscrabble), I think you’re still kind of with your main characters. It’s thrilling, too. It’s those great characters in films we remember from our childhood. They’re pretty scary. You just always want to make sure you’re not hurting the experience by taking too much for granted.”
Fear can be helpful, especially when it’s not overwhelming and eating everything and everyone in sight. This kind of fear bolsters us and teaches us our limits.
5. The Opener
“Monsters University” has a stunning short film playing before it titled “The Blue Umbrella.” I watched it for several minutes before realizing what I thought was real was digitally painted. Just stunning. It’s got a great story and so simply executed.
What kind of short film would play before that zombie movie? That’s what I thought.
6. Easter Eggs
Did you ever enjoy a buddy comedy, 1980s college film or origin story? Well, “Monsters University” is all three of those. Combined. What is “World War Z” after all? Horror Suspense? At most, that’s two words. One genre, maybe. Boring. One note.
I lost count of the “Animal House” and other movie-related references in the film. For a film nerd and a child of the 80s, it makes me so happy. Also, this film being a prequel, has so many fun origins of later references. You learn about each character and how they came to be. It’s really well-done.
7. Your Kids
Hang out with your kids. Listen to their laughs in the theater. That can be almost as entertaining and worthwhile as a great movie. In this case, it’s the movie you’ll have trouble taking your eyes off of. John Goodman and Billy Crystal are letter perfect. The narrative weaves a magnetism from its characters. But you’ll be sitting next to the most magnetic things of all: your children.
There are some dark moments and a couple of characters that might be too much for young ones, so research it and adjudicate well for yourselves.
And the twist at the end has a message for everyone, young and old. You might just be scared silly.
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