Monsters University (2013)
Synopsis: Monsters University takes us back to where Mike and Sully’s university days all started: Monsters University! Mike wants to be a scarer but just isn’t scary, and Sully thinks he can skate by on his family name and good looks! So Mike has to win the Homecoming Carnival so Lambda Lambda Lambda can take control of the Greek Council.
Would you be able to sit through it?: Unquestionably! This movie is just as good as any other Pixar offering and you should have no problem liking it just as much as your kid or someone else’s kid.
Any scary/violent parts?: It’s a movie about monsters whose job it is to scare kids, so some parts where they’re scaring kids may scare kids.
Anything that will screw up your kid’s head?: May lead them to believe that monsters lurk in their own closet, but the characterizations will have them feel sympathy for the monsters, which is a whole weird situation I don’t even want to get into.
Any lessons to be learned?: Believe in yourself, overcome your limitations and restrictions, and it’s OK to be scared sometimes.
Recommended age: 3. It really depends on your kid. If they’re already scared of monsters, it’s probably not a good idea for them to see this. If not, it’s very colorful and fun for them.
Rent it, buy it or avoid it?: Buy! (well, see at the theater now, then buy when it comes out on home video.) I thoroughly enjoyed it and the kid loved it too, since it’s wall-to-wall colorful characters and wacky monkeyshines. I thought it was just as good as Monsters, Inc., maybe even more enjoyable. The plot isn’t the freshest catch of the day as it’s basically Revenge of the Nerds with monsters, but remaking Revenge of the Nerds with monsters is a pretty awesome idea, right? For me, this movie was actually refreshing after seeing Man of Steel, and really all superhero movies and big blockbusters in general, which are mostly entertaining but full of flaws. Monsters University isn’t bogged down by those kinds of flaws. That’s not to say it’s flawless (e.g., there’s an aquatic school that looks cool but are kids bedrooms underwater? The ending gets a little too heavy. There’s a character at the beginning who doesn’t show up again for some reason. SPOILER: Sully does something toward the end in secret, but he was being watched on a monitor by hundreds of students, so there’s no way he could have done it without being seen.) But aside from a few minor things, it doesn’t make you furrow your brow and wonder what the filmmakers were thinking. It’s just fun to watch, and amazing to look at (there are some scenes set on the campus in winter that looked almost real.) If you’re not a lonely, cynical jerk (you know who you are) you should go see it, kid or no.
Score: 8.5 children screaming in terror (out of 10)
Short Film: As with all Pixar movies, a short was included before the main picture. This one was called The Blue Umbrella, which was pretty cute, story-wise. But the visuals were nothing short of astonishing. Watching it, I actually thought that they mixed lived action with some CG animation, but I looked it up when I got home and it’s all computer generated. It’s the most photo-real animation I’ve ever seen. I think it helps that you don’t really see any humans except for their legs really, but all of the buildings, cars, etc. look like a live-action film (except the “faces” of the umbrellas, of course). Here’s a clip, which doesn’t really do it justice at all. It just amazes me what we can achieve now.