Tuesday, June 25, 2013
"Monsters University" joins a long line of second films better than the firsts in their respective series: "Back to the Future Part II," "Die Hard 2: Die Harder," "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."
"Monsters, Inc." basically had one great moment: the vertiginous flying-door scene. Twelve years later, Pixar has taken the time to show us who Sully (John Goodman) and Wazowski (Billy Crystal) are and how they came to be scarers at MI. Director Dan Scanlon has imbued this new picture with a lot more humor and heart.
Most of the movie involves a campus competition called The Scare Games in which six fraternities and sororities vie to determine who's scariest. Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) bets Mike and Sully their seats in the scaring program that their supremely unhip frat, Oozma Kappa (an adorable collection of misfits if ever there was one), can't win. (When Sully tells her Mike's the brains of their team, she asks, "Yes, but is he scary?" and, hearing no response, walks away.) The Games provide ample opportunity for the Pixar team to flex its visual and verbal wit. Before taking fifteen minutes too long to end, "Monsters University" spends most of its runtime at a three-star level. I was highly pleasantly surprised.