Monsters University: A Review

As the summer season is now upon us, so, apparently, is the time for me to actually watch first run movies.  Part of this is due to the fact that the drive-in theater is once again open, but something else occurred recently to open up our movie watching abilities. . . my son has finally gotten to the point where he can sit through (almost) a whole movie.

Of course, the movie we chose to test this on was Monsters University, starring his favorite eyeball, Mike Wazowski.

It was a pretty big deal.

In fact, my kids were so excited about getting to see this movie (in an indoor theater even!) that they completely forgot to beg about popcorn.  This was fortuitous, since we’ve just introduced a new budget for the family, causing things like popcorn to be secondary options when available. . . especially when paying movie theater prices for the treat.

Basic thoughts?  Darn good movie.  It had me laughing out loud in quite a few places, particularly one which involved some severe swelling for most of the characters.  My kids were both pretty into it.  My son yelling out the characters’ names as they appeared on screen, my daughter getting tense whenever there was a situation that may not go well for them.  Overall they both totally enjoyed the film (although, without prompting, my daughter stated Man of Steel was better, take that critics!).

It was a cute film which managed to stray quite far from what has been Pixar’s norm as of late.  This wasn’t a touching emotional film where dads find themselves hiding their tears because of some beautiful montage showing the lives of two people in love which ends up causing an old man to attach a billion balloons to his house in order to fulfill his wife’s lifelong wish.  It was much more in line with films like Animal House, Sixteen Candles, or Revenge of the Nerds (albeit, much more family friendly).  In fact, one particular monster had the habit of reminding me of the character named Ogre in the Nerds movies.

One thing I can say against the film is that I wish there was more that they had done with the secondary characters.  The monsters of the “loser” fraternity Oozma Kappa were beautifully cast and almost every second they owned the screen was pure delight.  Charlie Day as the philosophy major named Art was brilliant.

But what I found most captivating while watching this film was how truly gorgeous it was.  The skin textures, reflections in eyeballs, and the realism in things such as buildings, foliage, and, well, everything, was overwhelming.  I found myself staring into Mike’s big eye looking at the world he was seeing.  I was frequently distracted from the story as I looked at the matted hair of Art, or the discolorations in Mike’s skin, or the bat-like texture of Don’s moustache.

Of course, the short film before the movie takes this to an entirely different level, making you wonder what’s computer generated and what’s real.

Pixar has taken things to an incredible level.  Their ability to tell as story is still as amazing as it was when Toy Story was released, but their ability to generate a beautiful image is world’s apart from then.

I highly suggest watching this movie.  However, if you have the chance to see it on the big screen, I can’t tell you how much you need to see these monsters as large as you can.  The true beauty of this film can’t be seen on a 40 inch screen.

Oh, and how did my son do with his first indoor-theater movie?  Well, this is a kid who likes to be in his jammies prepped for bed by 6:30pm.  Our movie started at 5:00pm. . . he was getting pretty darn squirmy about an hour and a half in, but overall a contented little kid.

Can’t wait to take him to see more.


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