The husband and I left the thundering herd at home tonight and went to see Monsters University, just the two of us.
In the past, we’ve always run right out as a family to see new Pixar films, but I was worried that the college setting of this one might prove too tempting for the filmmakers to avoid a whole lot of stuff that wouldn’t be appropriate for a kids’ movie.
The good news is that really wasn’t an issue. No drug/drinking jokes, no hooking up, no love interests at all.
But the bad news is that it just wasn’t a good movie. It didn’t have the heart or the charm or the creativity of Monsters Inc or the other Pixar movies we love. The plot felt disjointed, like it was three or four episodes of a TV show rather than one movie. They took two likeable characters and made them unlikeable to us and to each other so that, finally, in literally the last three minutes of the movie they can learn their lessons and redeem themselves.
The ending montage is terrific, but for me it was too little too late.
Also, I had high hopes for the world of Monsters University after reading an article based on interviews with the creative team in which they talked about all the care and detail that went into creating the university itself. Even going into it looking for those charming details (like doors within doors for monsters of varying sizes) I really didn’t notice any of it. But I remember loving so much of that stuff from the original!
They don’t fall prey to the lowbrow college stuff, and nor do they take the “corrupt the earnest college freshman” route. They also avoid the “if you just want it enough, anything is possible” schtick. All of which I appreciated.
If you want to put it in a genre, it’s an 80s teen movie, and if you’ll take a moment to recall those, they pretty much espouse the worldview that everyone is either a jerk or a loser (loveable or otherwise). That’s how it feels at Monsters University, and I just don’t like that worldview. In my experience there are always plenty of nice and cool and pleasant people mixed in with the jerks and losers out there.
There were precious few laugh out loud moments, and until the bitter end, it was really hard for me to find anyone to root for.
If the grandparents desperately want to take your kids to see this, I guess I can’t see any real reason to say no. But if your kids’ seeing this movie would require you to pay for it and/or sit through it yourself I honestly wouldn’t bother. Just make them some popcorn and watch an encore presentation of Monsters Inc. That’s what we’re going to do around here.
p.s. I also thought the short beforehand was derivative of and inferior to Disney’s Oscar-winner Paperman. Why not just watch that right now for free?