Monsters University movie review: The screams of Sallie Mae

Jun 21, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

This pleasurable prequel to Monster’s, Inc. goes back in time to when a young Mike and Sulley attended a School for Scaring. Pixar appears to have been studying up, too, because the animation looks great in 3D.

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Monsters University

4.5 Stars: Perfect for tots who grew up with Mike and Sulley

The movie starts with Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) as a little tyke, taking a school field trip to Monster’s, Inc., where his dream to be a professional Scarer is born. Flash forward 10 years, and he’s chosen to enroll at Monsters University instead of its rival school, Fear Tech.

But scaring doesn’t come easily to Mike, unlike the arrogant Sulley (John Goodman), whose size and deep vocal timbre make him a natural spooker. Mike refuses to give up, however, and knows that hard work and hitting the books will help him achieve his goals of getting paid to freak out the kids of Monstropolis.

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Monsters University

Sulley, on the other hand, is hardly working. His lazy attitude irks Mike to no end. To make life worse for Mike, Sulley garners the attention of legendary Scarer, Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) while our cuddly Cyclops fails to impress her.

Inspired by the Amazonian giant centipede, Hardscrabble, with 30 legs and bat-like wings, is as beautiful as she in intimidating. When both Mike and Sulley unexpectedly get kicked out of Scare School, they must learn to work together on a team with other misfit monsters in hopes of getting back into Hardscrabble’s good graces.

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Monsters University

What’s different about this kids’ movie, and perhaps the most interesting part of the story, is that it explores what happens when Mike and Sulley’s dreams get derailed. The filmmakers could have easily made the ending trite and predictable, but instead they chose to challenge these beloved characters all while remaining positive and upbeat.

Bottom line: Your little ones will thoroughly enjoy this film, particularly if they grew up watching Monsters, Inc. on DVD.

Run time is 1 hour and 47 minutes. Stay through the credits for one extra, cute scene.

Photo credit: Disney