FlixChatter Review: Monsters University


I remember rolling my eyes when I first heard of Pixar making a prequel of Monsters Inc., one of my favorites from its canon of animated features. But then I saw the trailer and I thought it looked pretty funny, and got me curious if revisiting the world of the colorful monsters would be well worth the effort.

Well, after seeing it a week ago, I can happily say that I enjoyed it immensely!! Mike Wazowski, the one-eyed green monster with Billy Crystal‘s high-pitched voice, remains one of my all-time favorite Pixar characters. Here Pixar crafted yet another ingenious storyline, an ‘origin story’ if you will of how the Mike + James P. Sullivan (Sulley), the best ‘scarer duo’ at the Monsters, Inc. end up working together and what the job meant to them.

Right from the get-go, I felt glad to be back in Monstropolis. Ever since he was a youngster, Mike has always been enamored by the profession of collecting screams from human children for the city’s power supply. A school field trip to Monsters Inc. got him all wide-eyed about becoming one of those scarer himself… it’s akin to how a field trip to NASA made some youngsters yearn to be an astronauts! So when Mike’s enrolled in Monsters University (modeled after Univ of Cal Berkeley according to the campus website), he was pretty gung-ho about learning to be the best scarer he could be. I LOVE how they introduce him walking around campus as a freshman, it’s such a fun character development that’s classic Pixar, and visually it’s as beautiful as I had expected. It’s interesting how Mike’s roommate is none other than the chameleon Randall (he still goes by Randy here), who seems pretty harmless and even nice at first, but of course his sinister side is later revealed.


His meeting with Sulley is a memorable one, both hilarious and moving at the same time. Y’see, Sulley came from a legendary family of scarers, in class the professor actually mentioned the Sullivans by name and holds it in high regards. So Sulley is one of those students who could get by with not much efforts on his part, which infuriates Mike as in contrast, he’s the kind of guy who’s always been told he’s not scary at all, that he’s not cut out to be a scarer, etc. So naturally, he’ll do everything in his power to prove everyone wrong.

MonstersUnivDeanHardscrabbleAs with many Pixar films, it’s chock-full of awesome characters and this one is no different. The fraternity students where Mike & Sully end up belonging to are a hoot, they’re the nerds in school that the cool crowds make fun of, so immediately I sympathize with them. Plus they’re just such a hilarious bunch! One of the most memorable characters is definitely Dean Hardscrabble, a red dragon-like creature with millipede legs and bat wings. Voiced by the great Dame Helen Mirren, she’s quite a terrifying character that’s no doubt feared by everyone at school. Another British actor I like, Alfred Molina, also lends the voice of the professor of the Scaring Program.

I find the story to be quite engaging from start to finish, I was fully invested in Mike’s journey and the plot surrounding the Scare Games is definitely well-crafted. The beauty of this movie, as with many Pixar movies, is how relatable the story is. Even though we’re dealing with weird-looking creatures, the emotional issues they face (disappointment, betrayal, inferiority, etc.), are situations we could all identify with. But of course, they didn’t forgot about the sense of fun and that aspect is definitely here. The scene at the library is perhaps one of the highlights for me as I was in stitches the whole time, and also the finale of the Scare Games that’s action-packed and emotionally-charged.

If you’re a fan of Monsters, Inc. and its fabulous characters, I think you’ll enjoy this movie as much as I did. The chemistry between Mike & Sulley is still the primary strength of the film, and Billy Crystal and John Goodman are such excellent voice actors. Having just rewatched the original though, I still rate that one higher than this. The moment the duo met Boo in the beginning of the movie was pure comedic gold that’s tough to beat, even by Pixar itself. Now, as charming and entertaining this prequel is though, I do hope Pixar will return to delivering fresh, innovative ideas instead of recycling their old ones.

4 out of 5 reels

What say you, folks? Did you enjoy this one?

49 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Monsters University

    1. Hello Michael!! It’s always nice to see fantastic talents in the mix, I recognize Dame Mirren’s voice right away. I didn’t know she had been cast so it was a nice surprise.

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  2. Aaah this film also exceeded my expectations too! At first I was skeptical (and most of the early reviews were not that glowing either), but I was surprised cause it was very enjoyable and also heartwarming. The third act was classic, out-of-the-box Pixar that I have always loved. And little Mike Wazowski is the cutest thing ever.

    1. Hi Fariz! I’m glad this one ended up being so much fun! Though the plot is familiar, it was still hilarious! Yeah, that third act was a great finish, there’s rarely a boring moment here. Ha..ha.. yeah, I LOVE little Mike Wazowski, sooo adorable!!

  3. Ted S.

    I remember I enjoying the first movie, it’s been years since I’ve seen it though. I might give this one a rent or buy it for my niece and nephew and watch it with them, that way I’ll have an excuse to watch a cartoon, LOL.

    1. It’s definitely a fun one to watch w/ your young nieces Ted. I know my nieces love Mike Wazowski too, but then again who doesn’t? 😀

  4. I went and saw this with the kids today, Ruth, and loved it. Loved getting back into knowing Mike and Sully again – even in a prequel – and thought Pixar nailed the flavors and humor of the original once again. And my goodness, the animation was sublime!!!

    1. I’m so impressed how good the animation look, the colors, effects, etc. are like you said, sublime!! I guess it’s to be expected from Pixar but I’m glad the story is pretty darn good too!

    1. I think Mike Wazowski could very well be my all time fave Pixar character, maybe even equal to Woody and Buzz. Hope you love this too Chris!

  5. Haven’t seen this one but then again I’m not the biggest animated guy. But that all changes this coming weekend. I LOVED Despicable Me and I am genuinely pumped for the sequel!

    1. Y’see, I LOVE animated features, esp. Pixar, so even though I’d rather see original ideas, I couldn’t help being drawn to the world of Monstropolis once again. I do love those minions in Despicable Me though, so yeah I’m up for the sequel too!

      1. I remember giving Despicable Me 4.5 stars. So cute, so funny, but pretty heartwarming too. I saw it twice in the theater which is a big deal for me! 🙂

        Oh and yes, minions rock! I particularly love their simple names: Dave, Phil, etc!

        1. Ahah true! I think it makes it even cuter that they have such ‘ordinary’ names. Whoever came up w/ the minion idea is just brilliant as I could easily watch them do whatever for 2 hours straight, I wonder when they’ll do a spin off of them?

  6. Totally agree with your final line…. I too enjoyed this one but really hope Pixar get’s back to making original movies. Well, err, except if they made The Incredibles 2!

    1. Hi Asrap, good to hear from you! Ahah, I think a lot of people love The Incredibles but I still would rather see something new.

  7. Nice review Ruth. I saw this last night and while I feel it’s somewhat lacking I enjoyed it pretty well. I’m going to rewatch it with my young nieces tomorrow. 🙂

    1. Hi Armand! It’s gonna be tough to match the first movie, but as far as prequels go, I think it’s more than decent. Hope your young nieces enjoy this, can’t imagine they wouldn’t 😀

  8. I have to say that the idea of a prequel to one of my favorite Pixar movies didn’t have me all that excited. But, I think I’ll check it out. Maybe not in the theater, but still. I just don’t think it will be able to fully compare with the original.

  9. Excellent review Ruth. I’m so glad to hear this stands up as a worthy sequel to a brilliant original. I live the characters and can’t wait to revisit them. My kids are really looking forward to this one. As am I.

    1. Hi Mark. It’s not quite as memorable as the first, but not too shabby either. Hope you and your kids enjoy this as much as I did!

    1. Hmmm, good question. I think it’s comparable, though the whole storyline involving Boo is still hard to beat. Hard to top that first encounter scene when Boo scared the heck out of Sulley and Mike, well the entire Monstropolis practically, ahah.

  10. i love seeing more positive review about the film, i guess some people are giving it a harsher thought just because it did not achieve the same level as the first one. The library was so fun! I was holding my breath and tried to stay still to match their level of anticipation 😀
    Apparently (based on a Quora post) they also got inspired from a lot of campuses too not just berkeley, but i like how the design doesn’t stray too far from reality, i think that’s one of the factor that made it seems relatable 🙂
    and oh.. Helen Mirren scared the crap outta me the entire time her character’s on screen 😦

    1. Hi there, welcome to FC! Mirren’s character is quite scary looking, and her authoritative voice makes it even spookier, ahah.

    1. If you’re not a huge fan of Pixar movies or the original movie, I guess a rental would suffice. The animation looks great on the big screen though.

  11. Well I didn’t enjoy Monsters Inc, I don’t know if I’ll enjoy this. I sincerely hope Pixar produced more like Up in the future. But maybe I can count on this movie for entertainment.

  12. Glad you liked it. Nice review. I was a huge fan of Dean Hardscrabble also. Scare Games were great. It was a fun film, and I’m happy it’s getting a lot of love. It was a very safe bet for Pixar this time around.

  13. I enjoyed it as well, but not as much as you did. I should rewatch Monsters, Inc., as I haven’t seen it in probably a decade.

  14. bdgill12

    I didn’t enjoy it QUITE as much as you did but the kids in the theater with me loved it and I thought it was definitely a step back in the right direction for Pixar. Great review!

    1. I think because I love the characters, I had fun with the movie. Yeah, Pixar still does a good job w/ this prequel but I hope they’ll return to original stories soon.

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