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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Monsters University (3-D) | John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Alfred Molina, Helen Mirren | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Monsters University  (3-D) | John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Alfred Molina, Helen Mirren | Review

We met them on the job, merrily harvesting kids’ screams for energy at Monsters Inc.  

This time around we find out how walking green eyeball Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and big, blue, horned and spotted James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) met while attending the titular institution as Scaring majors.  The friendship is instantaneous.  NOT.

Instead, the two become fast adversaries with wildly differing styles.  Wazowski has a sterling work ethic and hits the books with determination.  Sullivan – Sulley – is a legacy student with a famous family name and reputation who scares by instinct, not theory.

Disappearing snake/lizard monster Randall “Randy” Boggs (Steve Buscemi) is also enrolled at MU and just starting to flex his sneaky, double-crossing muscles as a  pledge to BMOC (Big Monster on Campus) fraternity Roar Omega Roar (ROR), where Sulley is welcomed with open arms.

The friendly, diminutive Wazowski, despite good study habits and grades, is not taken seriously as a scarer by his fellow students, his teacher Professor Knight (Alfred Molina) or Abigail Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) Dean of the formidable Scaring School.

Sulley and Wazowski compete for scarer supremacy during the semester to prepare for the final exam.  Those who don’t pass must leave the program.  The two are expelled by Dean Hardscrabble anyway when the competition gets out of hand, and Sulley also loses his place in ROR.

In order to compete in the upcoming Scare Games, and get reinstated to the program, Sulley and Wazowski join misfit fraternity Oozma Kappa (OK).  Dean Hardscrabble insists that Wazowski leave the university if he fails.

From there the inept, scare-challenged OK, with the addition of Wazowski and Sulley, must face great odds to survive the cutthroat series of challenges that is the Scare Games.  Other complications take place down the road.  Will they lead to the scaring credentials that both of them covet?  You might be surprised.

The film is in 3-D but doesn’t need to be; the animation is crisp and satisfying on its own. The film’s message of friendship and perseverance has Disney written all over it (a good thing).

There’s less to discover, but writer/director Dan Scanlon (Tracy) retains the charm of the characters and the ever-important closet doors in this prequel to 2001’s Monster’s Inc.  The setting is different and there’s no Boo, but the camaraderie between Goodman and Crystal, along with the inventiveness of the visuals (Wazowski wears a retainer; sorority girls are identical when absolutely no one else is) makes for a pleasant enough ride through a metropolis of colorful monsters who harness children's screams to generate power.  

Talk about a renewable energy source.

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