Monsters Inc. is one of my favorite Pixar films. But it wasn’t Sully or Mike that stole the show, it was the little girl Boo. So how could a prequel manage to recapture that magic, without the key component? Will this be a sequel that surprises, or a disappointment like Cars 2?
We join Mike Wizowski (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) as they embark on the college adventure, to become world-class scarers. Sully is a legacy and doesn’t put in any effort, while Mike is a hard worker but lacks the ferocity to be a natural. There’s an eclectic crew of monsters, highlighted by the President of the ROR fraternity (Nathan Fillion) and Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren). Wizowski and Sully are natural enemies, but will they learn to work together or will they overcome their differences and become lifelong friends? Since this is a prequel, we already know.
This is an incredibly fun movie and you can tell that the production team had a blast. There are so many little things to notice and so many unique characters that sit in the background. It’s a rich world and incredibly interesting. And visually, Pixar has made huge leaps since when Monsters Inc was released. This film is gorgeous.
Crystal and Goodman both bring the same magic back to the screen and they actually probably have more substance in this film, than in the first. Monsters Inc wasn’t really about them… It was an adventure they went on, but it wasn’t a character-driven movie. This luckily is. Sully starts off as pretty much a jerk. And Mike Wizowski is much more so the underdog than he ever was in Monsters Inc. Here, you really see how hard he struggles and how badly he wants this. I’m curious to see if this backstory actually makes the original a little more satisfying.
Now, since Boo isn’t in this film, does that mean it has an emptiness to it? No. Boo doesn’t need to be in this film because Mike Wizowski and Sully are the heart of the movie. It’s not about an adventure to expose the world to a conspiracy, but this is about two monsters learning to be the best versions of themselves (and taking us along for the ride). The college setting is genius, as it inherently brings up issues of identity and fitting in.
And while you’d think this would be fairly predictable because we know how it ends, the journey to get there is incredibly satisfying. The film’s final act is great and gives us the punch that we wanted, as they work together in a very cool and creative way, showing us exactly how they ended up being best friends.
What doesn’t work?
It does seem like a Pixar movie aimed at kids, so the humor is a little childish in parts. And while it had some great character moments, there wasn’t anything really that emotionally impactful here, such as the opening sequence of Up or the fiery climax of Toy Story 3. It was fine, but I always appreciate some tugging at my heartstrings.
There is something after all the credits are over. It’s quick and doesn’t really matter much, but it exists and therefore some of you might want to see it.
This movie mostly succeeds. It’s funny but predictable for most of the movie, though manages to throw a few curveballs in the final act. The voices are spot-on, the visuals incredible, and you’ll leave the theater entirely satisfied. Is it better than Monsters Inc? No. But it’s still good and worth checking out, either in theaters or via rental, at some point.