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398 of 436 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2013
UPDATE 11/4/13: Blu-ray details review.

QUALITY: Unsurprisingly, the video quality is stunning. Little else needs to be said about the transfer. It's flawless.

EXTRAS: There are a TON of extras!

If you like the behind-the-scenes process of filmmaking, the extras here are about as extensive as I've seen before. Not only do the shorts give a background of life on Pixar's campus (Campus Life), but plenty of dedication to each aspect of making the film. Of course, there's also some deleted scenes.

What's nice about the scenes is that director Dan Scalon talks you through the scene in detail and why it was cut. They are of course unfinished, but still interesting to see what could have been part of the movie.

If I have one complaint, it's the layout of the bonus features menu. Despite the features being on a blu-ray disc, the menu does not operate like a blu-ray menu. Typically, you're able to operate within the menu while the movie (or features) are playing on screen. Instead, you need to return to the menu screen to select the next option. It's a small caveat, but there we go.


If you don't care about the end being discussed, then by all means read on...

My wife and I saw Monsters University and both loved it. Many of the Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes however, seemed to miss the point of the film entirely.

"This is a safe, predictable, edge-free, nearly bland effort from a studio that rarely hedges its bets." - Richard Roeper

"[It] conforms to [Pixar's] apparent drift toward the average, with toy sales taking priority over originality." - Liam Lacey

"Monsters University is cute, and funny, and the animation, though not exactly inspired, is certainly colorful." - Steven Rae

"Mostly memorable for being fine but forgettable." - Betsy Sharkey

Since 1995, Pixar has dominated computer animated filmmaking. They constantly win Academy Awards (9 nominations, 7 wins for Best Animated Feature) and are universally praised for their efforts by the critics. Nearly each Pixar movie has a handful of lessons or dominant themes it tries to teach and tell.

The Toy Story Trilogy (friendship, getting older)
A Bug's Life (self-esteem, ingenuity, teamwork)
Monster Inc (greed, pride)
Finding Nemo (father-son relationship, growing up, letting go)
The Incredibles (family values, honor)
*Cars and Cars 2 (I'm pretty sure these are just about marketing toys)
Ratatouille (friendship, trust, confidence)
WALL-E (consumerism, environmentalism)
Up (love, living life in the moment)
Brave (family values, respect, love, mother-daughter relationship).

However, after seeing MU and reading the critical reviews, I was shocked how many reviewers missed the point of the film and the important lessons Pixar chose to address in the film. You could even make the argument that the lessons in MU are more bold than any previous Pixar film. Which leads to why MU is ultimately about failure and why that's okay.

Obviously, as this is a movie about college, there are your typical and inherent lessons for the characters (finding your place, growing up, building friendships), but the most important and surprising lesson is watching Mike Wazowski fail. This lesson is a particularly unique and groundbreaking approach for the age groups in Generation Y (Millennial) and Z. Generational scholar and author Ron Alsop argued that the Millennial generation is a group of "trophy kids", who were given rewards just for participating. I'm a Millennial and like many of my friends growing up, we all received gold stars on our homework, ribbons for events, etc. constantly rewarding us for just doing our job. You could also argue we've been constantly told that we could achieve anything we want if we just worked hard. We were told there was no way we could fail. This is the definitive issue that MU tackles head-on.

From the age of little monster, Mike is enthralled with the career of being a scarer - the job that every monster dreams of. It's for the cream of the crop. Mike is told continually as a small monster that he's too small and not scary enough to succeed. It's only after he sneaks into a live door on the Monsters, Inc. scare floor that people believe he's capable of great things. He uses that moment to work hard and get into Monsters University to study at the School of Scaring.

The main plot is the competitive nature between the hard-working Mike and the famous-last-name Sullivan. Their antagonistic rivalry drives the story until they are forced to work together to get back into the School of Scaring. Like all feel good movies, Mike and Sullivan ultimately save the day, win the Scare Games and are cheered and admired amongst everyone at the school. They defeat the oppressive Dean and defy expectations, the day is theirs! But it's right that that the writers (Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanlon) drastically changes things.

Sullivan admits to cheating to help his team of lovable losers win and save face for Mike who he believes isn't scary. When Mike finds out, he breaks into the door testing laboratory to prove to himself that he is indeed scary. However, he quickly learns that he does not in fact scare the kids in the cabin. Crushed, Mike goes to the nearby lake and wallows in self-pity. Everything he's dreamed about and worked for has been for naught - he's failed to be scary, what society tells them is the only thing monsters should be. In the end Mike accepts this and along with Sully works his way from the mailroom at Monsters Inc. to the scare floor where we find him and Sully in Monsters, Inc.

While this journey from the mailroom to success supports the "work hard and you can accomplish anything" mentality of our generations, it also addresses the fact that Mike isn't ultimately meeting his initial goal. He acknowledges his failure and grows past that. No other examples come to mind of children movies in which a character or character fail and are okay with it, at least not in the end. This is what the critics missed. Pixar has chosen to tell a story about children (monsters) who grew up and realized that they cannot achieve their dreams, that their dreams are out of reach and totally unattainable. This bold lesson is actually a fantastic one for kids who watch this film.

For some, it's been decades of being taught that it is okay to fail, but that with hard work you can still achieve those dreams. For many that's true, but for some it's just not feasible. MU has managed to tell a story that supports that second statement. Failing isn't bad and realizing that some dreams really are out of reach is also okay. The real lesson is to be comfortable with who you are, what you're truly capable of and utilizing your strengths to better yourself and your community. That's what Mike does, he becomes the coach and teacher. His knowledge of scaring helps Sullivan to eventual massive success. He helps the rest of Oozma Kappa reach their dreams.

It's not a story about settling, it's a story about failing, learning from it and growing from the experience to make yourself and others better. It's a life lesson that we should share with this current and future generations. Yes you can reach your dreams with hard work, but if you can't, that's okay too.
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114 of 145 people found the following review helpful
Dumb me! Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb me! All summer I put my faith and hope in the big blockbuster films, the Iron Man 3's and Star Treks of the world. And from Man of Steel to Pacific Rim almost without fail these over budgeted, underwritten explosiony action films left me feeling disappointed and underwhelmed. Except for World War Z there is not a single movie I've seen this summer that I can truly say was a great film. Some were better than others (Oblivion and Pacific Rim were both pretty good) but considering their competition was Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness that's not saying much. All the while I put off seeing Monsters U for weeks. "It looks silly" I said, "Pixar has lost its mojo" the idiot side of my brain insisted. Well, that sure teaches me. I will never doubt Pixar again. Even if they make another mediocre film like Brave, they have more than proven themselves still capable of making a damn good film.

Wall E will always be my favorite Pixar film, and Toy Story 2 will always be my second, but fighting for third place for a long time has been Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, the original Toy Story, and Up. That is the kind of company Monsters U is keeping. It does everything right, from delivering plenty incredibly funny moments balanced with the kind of emotionally powerful and heartfelt scenes that have made Pixar a household name. This movie is so funny I chocked on my popcorn. I haven't laughed this hard in a movie since 21 Jump Street. And it wasn't that cheap appeal to the lowest denominator type humor either. There aren't any fart jokes, poop jokes, inside innuendos about sex or drugs. None of that nonsense here. This is good old fashioned honest to God comedy that's drop dead hilariousness and perfectly appropriate for all ages. When you hear kids laughing in the theaters along me, a 24 year old man, you know its comedy gold. It's because the characters carry the story, and when you have a story driven by strong characters you have a good film. Mike and Sully aren't the only ones delivering laughs, as just about everyone gets in on the action.

Mike and Sully, much like in the original film, star as the main roles but their relationship isn't quite the same. They start the film as heated rivals: Mike is an underdog overachiever who's devoted his entire life to becoming a scarer despite the fact that he's not even remotely scary, while Sully is the son of a famous scarer who's had everything in life handed to him and makes no effort whatsoever in applying himself. Sully has all the natural skill in the world but none of the motivation or drive to apply himself. Mike on the other hand lacks any sort of natural skill. He isn't scary, he's built like a lovable beach ball, he can't roar, but his drive and motivation makes him able to compete with some of the best scarers on campus. It's very Rudy like in that regard, and though not entirely original the way the story is told is Pixar magic at its finest. And like Rudy it teaches us a very valuable lesson that people of all ages can relate to, that despite ones physical limitations, even of those limitations preclude you from achieving something you've wanted your entire life, with enough hard work, dedication, and the right attitude you can very well succeed at what you wanted, even if it's not quite in the way you imagined. Who can't relate to that? Who here wanted to be an athlete when they grew up but didn't have the physical capability to compete past High School? : raises hand: As adults we've all experienced this at one time or another. You wanted to be an actor, an athlete, a musician, something, but despite your hard work and dedication it was just never meant to be. So I sympathize with Mike, as I imagine most audience members will.

At the other end of the spectrum we have Sully, who presents a cool and collected face to the world but is living with the weight of high expectations. His father is a world class scarer, a legend, and so Sully has a lot to live up to. His pedigree makes him blind to his own limitations and the need for improvement while also placing a burden upon him he's terrified of not living up to. He's brash, arrogant, a know it all, but as time goes on and failures pile on top of failures he learns that pedigree is not enough, that without actual effort your natural skills won't mean much of anything. Life won't give you a pass because you are the son of so and so or because you can roar really loud. Eventually you're going to be put to the test, and forced to compete against those of equal or greater natural ability. When that happens it's the ones that apply themselves the most who will succeed. It was great to see Sully's development in this way from hot shot know it all to humble and hardworking individual. I'm telling you there is more depth, growth, and subtlety to these characters then all the summer action films combined. It's not even close.

The animation in this film is the best CGI I've ever seen. For the scenes set in our world I would have to remind myself this was an animated movie. There is a scene when Mike and Sully are sitting by a lake with the moon hovering over them that looks like it could have been shot live action. It's that amazing. If not for the cartoon monsters I might not have been able to tell the difference. This applies to the very well made short, The Blue Umbrella that kicks the movie off. Pixar has always been a pioneer for animation but this is their best, more realistic work yet.

Monsters U is nothing short of a masterpiece. If this were any other studio I'd present this film as their masterpiece, but along with Japanese Studio Ghibli I don't think any studio has such a consistent level of success with almost every film they make. It's merely one of many dozens of fantastic movies by an amazing studio that deserves to be seen. If you've not seen it yet, make a point to do so. You will not be disappointed.

Replay value: High.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2013
You can't go wrong with Sullivan and Mike they are just too funny. I was hoping that they would have a second Monsters release and here it is. Everyone who has gone to college will get a kick out of this - It really isn't only just for kids.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2013
This is such a fun movie for all ages. Most sequels ( or in this case, a prequel), just aren't as good as the first movie. This story, however, is just as good as the first! My son begged for this for Christmas, and this is one movie I feel completely comfortable letting my kids watch!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
Got this movie within 2 days (thank you Prime!).

This movie was FANTASTIC! As good as the first if not better! Definitely recommend it for people of ALL ages.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2013
I noticed some good growing up lessons in this movie so I would recommend it for children and young adults alike.
One character learns that no matter how much you work at it, you might still fail (a good lesson on how to handle failure). Another learns that cheating doesn't pay and is in reality just another type of failure. Another character veers in a bad direction, illustrating that revenge isn't worth it. At the end the characters show that working hard at something is a good way to get where you want to go, even if it's not what you planned in the first place.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2013
My favorite Pixar characters are back and better than ever. Monsters INC is a classic film. I think everyone can agree with that. So I was nervous while watching Monsters U but it did not disappoint at all. Such a pleasure to watch. It's basically an animated, family friendly, remake of Revenge of the Nerds, and as a child of the 80s that was really fun to see.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2013
Before Mike and Sully were legends at Monsters, Inc. they went to MU where it's okay to be OK. Fans of the monsters will enjoy seeing their milestones and experiences at school. It's an environment that most people can relate to, and there is wide-eyed Mike in braces and then his retainer. Mike and Sully are so human! You gotta love them!
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 14, 2013
Capitalizing on the rightly deserved praise and success of the first film, Pixar decided to make a prequel showing how Mike and Sully came to be the dynamic duo of the monster world's energy concern. The movie shows them meeting (and clashing) in Monster University's screamer program. They are polar opposites, with the completely unfrightening Mike showing an uber-nerd's dedication to tests and book-learning while Sully relies on his size and family name to coast by, without realizing that they are things he has to live up to. Will they ever learn to respect and appreciate each other? Will they get kicked out of MU?

The problem with prequels is that we already know how it ends: with the two of them working as the monster world's most successful screamer duo. That means that a movie like this has to find its tension and suspense in the connective tissue. It's never a "will they? won't they?" type of thing, but more of a "how will they?" This is accomplished by setting up a lot more plot turns than you'd expect to find in an animated (children's?) film. In fact, the plot takes so many turns that the real point of the film -- to show us how Sully and Mike reach success -- is accomplished by a still frame montage at the end (the fourth or fifth montage of the movie, if my memory is correct). Meanwhile, because this is a Pixar film, there are a lot of sight gags, amazingly rendered scenery, goofy strings of dialogue, quasi-cute monster designs, and inside jokes to the first film (as well as a lot of monster-related puns).

It's not a bad film. It's fun, takes an interesting approach to its final moral, and has some cute moments. However, it also feels derivative (say hello to yet another movie about a preppy, jock-ish fraternity in contest against the underdog fraternity), and because the story gets redirected about four or five times, it also feels overlong and needlessly complicated. If you think too long or hard about any real part of the film, flaws reveal themselves pretty readily. They're not huge or gaping, but they're there. Even that's acceptable and would still result in a four-star review except that the first film was so perfectly done that this one feels like a very pale imitation of its predecessor. A visual treat and not without its charms, it still fails to fully satisfy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2013
Monsters University had a lot of hype to live up to. After all, Monsters, Inc. was a huge hit....especially with my daughter!

So...does Monsters University live up to the hype? Well....yes it does! doesn't quite have the charm of Monsters, Inc....and I think that's because it lacks Boo. After all, Boo was the "cute factor" in the first movie....and in this movie, of course, you don't have that. BUT...aside from this "lack of cute factor," Monsters University does not disappoint!

In the movie, we learn the famous scare team's back story. We begin the movie with Mike Wakowski (the "walking eyeball") as a young school child...and he is so adorable! We find out about this overly enthusiastic character's past and how he developed his all consuming desire to become a "scarer."

Then we cut to Mike Wakowski as a new college student at Monsters U.....we find out how earnestly he wants to achieve his devoted he is to book learning about scare tactics...enter James Sullivan (Sully)..who hails from a long line of scarers and who doesn't "go by the book" at all. Sully is overly-confident that he will pass all the tests without ever cracking a book....hence the team of Mike and Sully is born!

Of course, they don't exactly hit it off at first....

There are many new characters to meet in this Pixar prequel.....a whole group of funny misfit monsters in a "nerd" fraternity....there are frat parties and college hijinks, and most of all, a big competition...all of this providing plenty of brightly hued action and humor for young children - with enough amusing dialogue and character development to keep parents entertained, as well.

Even though we all know the outcome of the movie (this is a prequel, after all) the end result is never taken for granted as we watch...which is very clever of those writers, I think. I liked this daughter liked this whole family liked this movie. It's just one of those fun "likable" movies.

Is it as good as part one? that's okay. It's still good, and that's the point! I say, definitely add Monsters U to your Disney's worth it!
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