Review: Monsters University (U)

Like the characters of Toy Story, we clamour for more of Mike and Sulley in Monsters, Inc – and here they are, in a prequel, which is a canny move by Pixar/Disney.

A scene from Monsters University
A scene from Monsters University

In setting up the roots of our heroes, it paves the way for more monster-orientated screams and laughter in the sequels that will surely follow.

There is a growing undercurrent of adult humour in the Pixar films. Not that it is in any way unwelcome, unsettling or even worrying.

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Just mischievous.

It’s something for mums and dads to chortle to as their kids soak up the antics of Mike, Sulley and Co. Monsters University takes Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal voicing the enthusiastic green eyeball on legs) and James P Sullivan (John Goodman as the giant furball with a deafening roar) back to the days when they were in training.

But no-one finds little Mike, the one who looks like a very large green eyeball – and not the big furry monster – in the least bit scary.

And that’s tough when you scare children for a living. Sulley, on the other hand, coasts through life on his father’s reputation.

One’s a trier. The other’s an indolent wastrel with a big head.

Pixar films are packed with life lessons and Monsters University is absolutely no exception to this unwritten rule. This is a movie about peer pressure, fitting in, the need to conform, and the realisation that industry is the key to success. It is scattered with school stereotypes: the cool kids, the oddballs, the nerds, and the stern headteacher, in this case Dean Hardscrabble, voiced by Helen Mirren. It is impossible not to like and enjoy a Pixar picture but parents should be advised that very young children may not react well to some of the scenes. This is, after all, a film about monsters. Kids who believe a multi-tentacled beastie lurks beneath their bed or in the wardrobe may need some persuading that this is, after all, just a movie.