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Monsters University (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
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Disney Pixar proudly presents the hilarious story of how two mismatched monsters met and became lifelong friends in a movie screaming with laughter and oozing with heart. Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) was a little monster, he’s dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. With their dreams temporarily dashed, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right. Get ready to party with hours of exclusive bonus extras, including an inside look at the world of monsters and the animated theatrical short film "The Blue Umbrella."
Mike Wazowski's lifelong dream is to become a Scarer at Monsters, Inc. and he's sure he knows just how to do it. Ever since he was a young monster, Mike's had his eye on Monsters University, home of the world's top Scare Program. Now a freshman and hopeful Scare student, he's well versed in the rich history, theory, and technique required to reach his goal, and the little green one-eyed monster has more confidence, enthusiasm, determination and heart than all of his classmates combined. But unexpected roadblocks derail Mike's plans and he's forced to team up with a group of misfit monsters and an unlikely ally to give it the old college try and pull off the biggest coup in the University's history.
James P Sullivan
When it comes to Scaring, Sulley's a natural, his abundant size, fierce roar and family legacy of a long line of high-achieving Scarers make him a shoo-in for the esteemed Scare Program at Monsters University. But from the moment the overly confident monster steps his big furry feet on campus, it's clear he'd rather crack jokes than books and he learns the hard way that his unfettered talent and family ties can only get him so far. With his ego bruised and future in jeopardy, a stubborn Sulley must put his pride aside, team up with an odd bunch of misfit monsters and actually work if he wants to live up to his true Scaring potential.
Monsters University freshman Randy Boggs has big aspirations for college life. The peculiar lizard-like monster with his host of gangly arms and legs plans to major in Scaring and lead an active social life filled with fun, friends and fraternity parties. If only he could get his embarrassing disappearing habit under control, he'd be good to go, because how is he ever going to be a great Scarer if nobody can see him?
Faced with the realities of the economic downturn, Midwestern sales monster Don Carlton finds himself going back to school to learn new skills and pursue a dream career in Scaring. One of Monsters University's "mature" students and a founding member of Oozma Kappa fraternity, Don brings his honest hardworking spirit to their endeavors ensuring that his fellow brothers keep their various heads on straight and their array of eyes on the task at hands.
The ultimate free spirit, Art is a mysterious monster with a questionable background. By far the strangest member of the Oozma Kappas, Art bowls over the competition, sometimes literally with his unique dexterity and wild card ways. Nothing is scarier than the unpredictable, especially when it comes to this furry ball of bad.
Scott “Squishy” Squibbles
Scott Squibbles gives new meaning to the term "undeclared." A sophomore whose dream of becoming a Scarer was squashed in his first year at Monsters University,"Squishy" is a bit of a wide-eyed wanderer, small, sweet, naïve and quiet who not surprisingly still lives with his doting mother. But with a little help from his Oozma Kappa brothers, Squishy begins to realize he's more than just that shy monster in the corner.
Terri and Terry Perry
When it comes to Terri and Terry, it's hard not to ask, "Are two heads really better than one?" These bickering brothers have little in common. Terri with an "I" is a real romantic who's quick to spot the silver lining in any situation, while older brother Terry with a "y" sports a more cynical outlook on life. If they can stop squabbling long enough to work with their Oozma Kappa brothers – they might be able to put their heads together literally and find their place in Monsters University Scare Program once and for all.
Claire Wheeler is the Greek Council president at Monsters University and this year she is one of the chosen emcees for the school's annual Scare Games. Don't be fooled by Claire's brooding exterior and monotone drawl, banal in appearance, on the inside she is a galvanizing force of school spirit who diligently warns the Scare Game participants of the dangers they will face.
This preppy-looking fraternity monster has been chosen to assist the Greek Council president in emceeing the school's annual Scare Games. Jock-like and what some might refer to as a "meathead," Brock is a loud, enthusiastic emcee who relishes the danger of the Scare Games' challenges.
To Dean Hardscrabble, there are scary monsters and their are all other monsters. It's no surprise she feels this way, she is after all a legendary Scarer an dDean of the School of Scaring at Monsters University. Aspiring Scare students must be up for the challenge to impress her, though she is convinced that her assessment of who is truly scary and who is not is never wrong.
Professor Knight teaches Scaring 101, the introductory course to Scaring at Monsters University. With hundreds of new Scare students each year, Professor Knight must weed out the weak from the talented and identify who shows the most potential to be real Scarers. Only a few have what it takes to pass the formidable final exam and move on to the elite Scaring Program.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM.
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.
The addition of the DVD is of no use to us - we have no DVD only drives anywhere, not even on our computers. Everything is Blu-Ray where we watch anything. So I'd really prefer to see them do more Blu-Ray that aren't the multi format versions, yet still have all the extras. For this movie, the only options were this, or combo packs that had both movies in it. I'd prefer to not have to pay for a version I'm never going to use.
We already had this in digital format, but I wanted to get the Blu-Ray for the extra content. My son loves the "extras" in movies like the outtakes in Bugs Life and such, or even the bloopers on Muppets Most Wanted. So I had hoped we would get some good ones on here.
And that's where he was disappointed. There were a couple hours of extras here, but not really any engaging content for younger kids. Most of the extra content is designed for older people. And for me, as a parent, it was fascinating, hence the 5 star rating despite the things I didn't like about it. They had a bunch of videos behind the scenes, showing the workflow and the things the people deal with while creating the animations, storylines, art, etc... As a grown up I really enjoyed it. My son lost interest in a few minutes and moved on to something else. But these videos had some really neat insight into how the story morphed and changed from the beginning (I never knew originally Sully was going to want to be a dentist like his father, which shows how much they changed as they went). They also discussed how they used light and shadow to help emphasize the differences between the characters, and how whenever Mike and Sully were at odds, one was always in sunlight, the other in shadow. Whenever they started working together, that's when they would both be lit the same. Or whenever they made a major decision, they'd step from shadow into the light. Little things like that, which made subsequent viewings of the movie more interesting as I strove to catch these little things I had missed previously.
I had hopes for the deleted scenes, but unfortunately there were no scenes that were cut after animation, so all they are is a mix of very basic animation and storyboarding. They were alright, but I can see why they cut them, nothing really forwarded the story.
They had some really nice artwork as well in a photo show you can do. Again, something that interested me as an adult, but held no interest for my son.
The sound and video quality were excellent.
All told, if you're doing like I was, and thinking of getting this for the extras for your child, don't bother. There's nothing of interest for the younger kids. But if you, yourself, want to see behind the curtain to get an inside look at how they do their magic, it's worth grabbing.
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