A &E

Monster University Movie Review

It’s been 12 years since Pixar introduced us to the loveable one-eyed blob Mike Wazowski and his gigantic furry scare partner in Monsters, Inc., one James P. “Sulley” Sullivan. But instead of a “where are they now?” sequel, “Monsters University” travels back in time to tell the tale of how these two unlikely friends ended up in the scare business to begin with.

For Mike, being a scarer—a superstar monster who creeps into human children’s bedrooms to make them scream as a way of powering Monstropolis—is the only thing he’s ever wanted to do. For Sulley, there’s a family legacy to live up to since his dad was one of the most famous scarers ever.  They arrive as freshmen at Monsters University, each intent upon becoming scare majors. But some roadblocks await.

This is a great movie for any college student who needs a little bit of motivation.

Mike is a natural born student. He works hard. He studies hard. There’s just one problem: “What you lack is something that cannot be taught,” the stern head of the scare program, Dean Hardscrabble, tells him. “You’re not scary.”

Just like that, Mike’s dreams of being a scarer was going to take more work than he assumed.  Sulley’s got the opposite problem. He is a natural born scarer who wrongly assumes his genetic gifts mean he never needs to study. Soon he’s in search of a new major too.

Monsters University has two reassuring and comforting themes: recognizing and overcoming natural weaknesses, and understanding why people need friends to accomplish that task. Mike Wazowski is a model of self-discipline, determination and focus. He’s a whiz at all things academic, determined to overcome everyone’s belief that he’s not scary enough. He’s similarly adept at whipping his unlikely Oozma Kappa brothers into a team that actually has a fighting shot at winning the Scare Games, which is a game to prove who the best scarer is. But it’s not until he comes face-to-face with a situation that reveals just how not scary he really is that he has to reckon with the reality that he may not have what it takes to be a scarer.

In that moment, Sulley steps in to encourage his friend not to give up and to remind him what an inspiration he’s been to so many other monsters—not the least of which is himself. Sulley’s easy reliance on his natural gifts has made him lazy and arrogant, and Mike helps him see that talent alone isn’t enough. It must be coupled with discipline if it’s going to be fully realized.

On the flip side, Sulley eventually helps Mike see that sometimes desire alone may not be enough to overcome inherent weaknesses. In the end, Mike and Sulley realize they’re a better, stronger team together than either of them could ever be individually. It’s a significant moment when Sulley warmly gives Mike full credit for being the brains behind his brawn.

Monsters University is ultimately, then, more about friendship than scaring (or partying). Mike and Sulley each have some important growing up to do. And even though they’re both initially convinced that they have what it takes on their own to pursue their dreams of being scarers, in the end they need each other’s talents and encouragement. Along the way, they learn the incredibly valuable lesson that cheating and breaking rules while trying to prove they are the best in the scare games does not pay off. It also shows a heartwarming story about why learning important lessons together makes a big difference. They realize that even though they got expelled from college and things didn’t go the way they wanted, they can still work their way up to their dreams by starting from the bottom. This movie is perfect for anyone needing a boost on completing their dream goals.

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