At the Movies - Monsters University - review

Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) in Monsters University.
Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) in Monsters University.

It was always going to be a big ask but somehow Monsters University director Dan Scanlon has pulled it off.

‘Monsters Inc’ was like nothing ever been seen before when it was first released in 2001 but credit has to go to Scanlon and his fellow writers Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird for conjuring up something refreshingly magical, consistently funny and intelligent in the form of ‘Monsters University’.

Disney Pixar is not known for its prequels but essentially that is what ‘Monsters University’ is.

On a visit to Monsters Inc a six year-old Mike Wazowski decides he wants to be the world’s greatest scarer when he grows up.

Mike (Billy Crystal - ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘City Slickers’) secures a place on the scare programme at Monsters University where he first meets James P. (Sully) Sullivan (John Goodman - ‘The Artist’ and ‘Argo’).

Mike, who looks like a little garden pea with legs, is not the scariest of monsters and has to work much harder at his technique than Sully who comes from a long line of scarers and whose scaring abilities come naturally.

A altercation occurs between Mike and Sully and as a result head of the university, Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren - ‘Red’ and ‘Brighton Rock’) decides to kick both would-be scarers off the course.

An opportunity to prove Dean Hardscrabble wrong presents itself but Mike and Sully must work with a team of misfits if they are to reclaim their place on the prestigious scare programme.

Writing and creating movies like ‘Monsters University’ has to be one of the toughest tasks in cinema.

Whilst the vast majority of movies only have to satisfy one audience, movies like ‘Monsters University’ must leave both adults and children content and sufficiently fulfilled.

Crystal’s erudite Mike Wazowski and Goodman’s gallant Sully made ‘Monsters Inc’ unforgettable. Happily, nothing has changed here but what makes ‘Monster University’ unmissable is watching how both Mike and Sully change and become the characters we know and love from ‘Monsters Inc’. Helen Mirren’s Dean Hardscrabble felt a little under utilized and on too many occasions her character was reduced to grimaces and facial expressions. Hardscrabble was a strong character and perhaps deserved a little more attention.

Be that as it may, ‘Monsters University’ is a film that provides consistent laughs on several levels and it’s a film that adults and children will equally adore.

Dan Scanlon has taken some of the most memorable elements from films like ‘Animal House’ (1978), ‘The Skulls’ (2000) and ‘Old School’ (2003) and mixed it altogether with a huge big dollop of Disney Pixar magic; the end result is just under two hours of what makes taking children to the cinema utterly enchanting.

It’s such an intelligently written movie in the sense it provides a message to adults and children alike in that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be someone else but ultimately you just have to accept who you are. It’s fervently marvellous.

‘Monsters University’ is currently showing at the Brunswick Moviebowl; for full listings visit or telephone 028 71 371 999.