Sequels are a big part of the movie industry and even Pixar has resorted to making more sequels for some of their original hits. First Car 2, which received mixed reviews, and sometime in 2015 we’ll get Finding Dory. This time around, we’re getting Monsters University, which left me feeling unsatisfied.
It is hard to recapture what you get in the first film into its sequel, which was the case with this film. There in lies the problem. There was nothing glaringly wrong or upsetting about Monsters University, but it just felt forced. Its predecessor, Monsters Inc., had all the originality and storytelling that we have come to love from Pixar studios, and although this installment had its moments, it did not quite meet my expectations. It was short on story and, surprisingly, short on laughs. It tried to be serious at times and its switches from seriousness to comedy seemed off. A running theme in the film.
In the film, we see the origins of the relationship between Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman), which is the basis of the original film. Here, we see how they meet, which is in college. Their friendship starts off on the wrong foot and stays wrong for most of the film, until the very end. Sulley is entitled as a scarer, as his father was a great, but Mike has to work his butt off to even be competent. They are the yin and yang to the story. A slacker and a student who need each other to push themselves further. They are each a nuisance to the other and only end up in the same group together as a last chance circumstance. In a way, it is nice to know that they are not meant for each other and that they have to work for their relationship, which is a nice message to the kids that understand it. Life sometimes can be unpleasant and difficult, but if you deal with it properly, you can do anything. Now that is a message that all the young kids can believe in!
With all the trials and tribulations that Mike and Sulley go through, they eventually realize the power of their friendship and, even though they are expelled from Monsters University, they stick together and rise to the top of the screaming game. A true assurance that sometimes friends come from unlikely places.
As a whole however, Monsters University could have been stronger. Since it was a prequel, you knew the outcome of the relationship between Sully and Mike, which extinguishes some of the hardship they go through, since you know they work through it. And the hardship was not really hardship, but rather a simple inconvenience. I would have liked to have seen a story with a little more mystery and suspense. One where you are not sure everything is going to be alright. That way the story has more meaning and could go somewhere. Instead, we get a nice story about how two monsters become friends. Quaint and tame.