You get sequels, but a pre-sequel?
One of the hardest things to do is to beat an original. There are very few films that shine just as if not more than the original. A classic Home Alone will always stand alone as the original. Your Toy Story 2 did great for a sequel but the third not so good.
The most disappointing thing about the Monsters Inc. pre-sequel was knowing that the angelic Boo wasn’t going to be in the film. Voiced over by Mary Gibbs, it truly brought an element of a cute factor into the film which I felt was lost in the pre-sequel. Directed by Dan Scanlon, he certainly had some big boots to fill of Pete Docter who’s created hits such as Toy Story and Up the question really was ‘Can it beat the original?’
Monsters University (MU for short), the film starts off with a young Mike, portrayed by Billy Crystal, who goes on a class field trip to the Monsters Inc. (MI). A brave six year old enters the Inc. and goes into the lab without the permission. Michael follows Frank, a scarer into the human world as he watches from a distance. As they return back to the Inc. an angry Frank scolds Mike for crossing the line; yet at the same time admires his bravery and courage of sneaking in silently. Pleased with what the young Mike can do, Frank hands over his MU cap to him sending Mike into a joy of happiness giving him a clear direction of knowing what he wants to do with his future.
Approximately eleven years later, Mike is a scare major at MU. On his first day, he meets his new roommate, Randall. During the first class of the scare program, as Mike is answering a question, he is interrupted by another scare student who strolls in late. The arrogant, self-absorbed, egoistic, large blue monster, voiced over by John Goodman, named Sulley walks in. Dean issues a stern warning of how the monsters are to work hard and pass the semester as they could be thrown out at any given moment.
One night, Sulley comes into Mike’s room as he is sat studying. This is the first time we see these two characters eye to eye in the film. An unhappy Mike is less than impressed with Sulley’s antiques of stealing the pig mascot from rivalry camp ‘Fear Tech’. As the pair argues the pig lets loose. Mike traps the pig but is overshadowed by Sulley who is then recognised by ROR giving him all the credit for his brilliance and bringing him on to join their team. An unhappy Mike who wishes to join the group leaves the scene which further prompts rivalry between the two is just getting started.
Mike studies, while the privileged Sulley, convinced all he needs is his natural scaring ability following his family legacy. At the final exam, Mike and Sulley’s rivalry causes them to both fail and dropped from the program. Refusing to back down, Mike decides to prove himself by entering the Scare Games. This shows courage and determination, inspiring to the viewers.
With the games only for fraternity or sorority members, Mike joins Oozma Kappa (OK), a small fraternity of misfit monsters. When Mike and OK are denied entry as they are one team member short, Sulley offers to join, seeing the competition as his ticket back into the scare program. Mike has no choice but to agree.
The film goes into a section of races and challenge between the teams.
After OK wins the final round, Mike discovers that Sulley manipulated the equipment to improve Mike’s score. Mike is heartbroken and wants to prove that he is capable of becoming a scarer, so he breaks into the school’s door lab and enters a door to the human world.
Back at the university, Sulley admits to Dean that he cheated, just as she’s notified of Mike’s break-in. The key factor of friendship is commended at this stage of the film as we see a rival duo going through all the stops to help. After Sulley finds Mike and reconciling, the pair find themselves trapped in the human world.
Together with team effort the pair creates a roar with enough energy to activate the door to open and return back to Inc. Their actions lead to their expulsion from the university, but the other members of Oozma Kappa are accepted into the scare program the next semester as Dean was impressed with their performance in the games. As they all say their goodbyes, Dean stops by to tell Mike and Sulley how she had them by surprise and wishing them luck.
Fast forward a little, Mike and Sulley work at Monsters, Inc.
Working their way up through the company, the two get promoted to janitors, then to cafeteria boys, then to can wranglers, and eventually become part of the Scarer Team which is all captured through a Polaroid.
Monsters University is a great family movie, with plenty of wholesome laughs, heart and soul. The moral of the film is quite simple. Mike and Sulley learn to work together with their strengths and differences, putting aside alter egos. Additionally learning the key to success is through friendship. MU shows a film of friendship and how to value the importance of something so special.
As I watched this film I thought, 12 years it took for a spin-off. Wasn’t it ironic how when watching MI the viewers were roughly 4-8 years old? 12 years on, we get a second film from the duo – this time set in University. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps a comeback could be to do with the childhood. The old viewers are now at the age of 15-19 and are heading off to college/university so perhaps this was kind of a comeback as the teens saying goodbye to their childhood.
So going back to the question from the start. No, it can’t beat the original because they can never be touched. However, Dan certainty did an excellent job with a pre-sequel which gave the film an in depth story of how the scare monsters became friends. The film didn’t disappoint of showing what really makes friendship and kudos to that!