A Nostalgic Look at Monsters University

24 Jun

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For most of us, Monsters University was a very nostalgic experience. Because of this, I’m going to be a bit nostalgic and go down memory lane (Stay with me, it’s relevant).

When I was but a small inkling, I was crazy for one movie. Monsters, Inc. I remember having it on VHS. For a month after getting it, I watched it every single day. I had the Monsters Inc video game, and I religiously played it when not watching Monsters, Inc. Heck, I even watched the bonus features from it. Who watches the bonus features on video games?

The Nepal level pissed me off to no end.

The Nepal level pissed me off to no end.

To this day I am an avid Disney pin trader, and guess what my first pin was?  Boo from Monsters, Inc. I also want to take a moment and say that most kids who saw Monsters, Inc. found a connection with Boo because she was cute, Mike because he was funny, or Sully because he was brave. Oh no, not me. I had a weird fascination with Randall Boggs, the villain. I seriously thought he was the coolest. I’m sure that says something about me, that as a child I was fascinated with such a villainous and despicable creature. But that’s between me and my psychiatrist.

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Basically the reason why I like Steve Buscemi so much

I loved all Disney movies at that age, but I’m going to have to give credit to Monsters, Inc. for being the catalyst in my admiration of animation. It’s not surprising that I would eventually become a moderator on a Pixar fan site and write for an animation blog.

I actually remember seeing Monsters, Inc in theaters. I went with my neighbors on opening night. And 12 years later, I went to that exact same movie theater to see Monsters University on its opening day. So yes, I’m pretty nostalgic about that matter, which is perfect because this movie is a pretty nostalgic thing unto itself.

FLASHBACK, FLASHFORWARD

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If you are a Monsters, Inc fan then this film is especially a treat. There were a lot of great references to its predecessor. The first of which I noticed was the score. Pixar staple Randy Newman returns as the composer for this film. Several pieces of the music can be traced to Monsters, Inc. Especially the scenes involving the factory itself. The soundtrack also has amazing new pieces of music, and the end credits song is the headliner on my tumblr playlist at the moment.

In addition, some lines and dialogue were taken directly from Monsters, Inc. Word for word.  Pixar cameo staples such as AII3 and the Pizza Planet Truck make appearances as well. I was especially happy to see that Mike brought Little Mikey to college, but my favorite nod to the first film is easily Randall’s “Winds of Change” poster.

winds

If you don’t know the reference, then I am disapoint.

 And of course, there are a lot of familiar faces. It was a real treat to see the likes of George Sanderson, Waternoose, Roz, and the Abominable Snowman.  This film is fun on its own, but being familiar with Monsters, Inc will make this film much more enjoyable.

SOCIAL MEDIA AT ITS FINEST

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

I would definitely fit in with Oozma Kappa

I would just like to take a moment and applaud Pixar’s marketing department. Because they outdid it with social media. Any old movie studio can create some funny trailers and appealing posters. But oh no, Pixar won’t settle for that. They created a fully functional University Website. Because I spent the past year working on transferring to a University, I have seen my fair share of University websites. And Monsters University’s is completely accurate. They list the schools, the majors, the classes, even the fricken’ textbooks required. There’s a store where you can buy MU gear. The Greek Life gets a section, the faculty gets a section, the parents get a section.  You can read up on how MU’s football team is doing. Heck, there’s even a map and directions page.

And if that’s not enough. Pixar pranked its own website. On April Fools, the Monsters University website was ‘hacked’ by its rival school- Fear Tech.

Oh, and Pixar also created a tumblr account for a student at Monsters University- Grumblr. Grumblr is a “Monstropolis transplant, MU sophomore, and self-diagnosed coffee addict”. Grumblr posts about frustration when MU looses a sports game to what certain students are up to on campus. So kudos to Pixar, they definitely did a fantastic job drumming up interest for this movie (as if it wasn’t needed already!)

AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE

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I enjoyed Monsters University way more than Pixar’s last two endeavors (Cars 2 and Brave). I thought that Brave was a sub par film, to be honest. There are a lot of reasons, but for this articles purpose I will focus on one. One reason why Pixar movies work so well is that they create entire new universes. In most Pixar films, we get to see the second lives of toys, cities and colonies for bugs, an alternate universe for Cars, or the Monster universe. And they don’t half ass it either. These universes have rules on what can and can’t work within them, and there is continuity. This is sort of Pixar’s niche- glimpses into new worlds is the basis of most of their films. There are exceptions, and Brave is the most notable. It was in world with a precise location and time. I applaud Pixar for going outside its niche, but it isn’t that Pixar ‘flair’ that most of us know and love. Creating new worlds is, and they have fun doing it.

Monsters University works so well because the studio expanded on the idea of the Monster Universe. We get to see a bit more of the factory itself, but we also get to see a previously unexplored idea- how Monsters get to Monsters Inc.  We see how doors to the human world are made, how great scarers are made, and even what birds in that world look like. This film is remarkably creative, and that in itself makes it incredibly enjoyable.

THE UNIVERSITY LIFE

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Poor Mike can never catch a break

This movie is especially fun if you’re a college student. I graduated last month from my community college, and I’m transferring to a University this fall. I actually had my orientation the day before I saw Monsters University. Don’t you love how the pieces fall together like that sometimes? So the film’s setting especially appealed to me, and peers who grew up with Monsters Inc, and are now college students themselves. There was defintely a lot of familiar sites. From the overly excited Orientation Leaders to the pre-finals coffee addicted students.   We also see a student who is incredibly anxious and optimistic to see his dreams come true, and we also see the overpowering pressure sense of fear should failure happen. This film is remarkably east to connect with if you’re a student.

A POWERFUL MESSAGE

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

~Alright, this next part has no outright spoilers. However, I will be talking about the overall theme of the movie, what the message was. I won’t be talking about plot points, but you might still want to avoid this part if you want to keep a blank slate before seeing the film~

Monsters University is unique in its message. Basically it’s, “Guess what, just because you put a lot of effort into something doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. There are some things you just can’t do. Not everyone’s dreams come true”. And I loved that. Too many films (notably from the House of Mouse) have messages along the lines of “If you believe in yourself, your dreams will come true”. While it’s good to believe in yourself and have a dream, in the real world things don’t work out the way you want them to. The fact is that there are some things we can’t change about ourselves. No matter how much we try. And that’s alright. Because everyone has their purpose, their place. Not everything in life will go according to your plan. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be happy or find new dreams. So thank you Pixar, for this very unique and realistic advice.

—–

I don’t know what else to say. Just go see Monsters University. I know that I will be seeing it again, and I can’t wait to see what details I notice the second time around.

P.S. Terri and Terry Perry were awesome.

terry and terri

 

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10 Responses to “A Nostalgic Look at Monsters University”

  1. The Animation Commendation June 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Nice to see you back, Kenzie 😀 !

    My favorite Pixar film is “Monsters Inc.”, so when I heard that they were making a prequel to this, you’d think I’d have been ecstatic for it. But, I wasn’t. I guess I felt Pixar couldn’t come up with new ideas and that they were relying on the “prequel/sequel” formula that recently didn’t seem to work so well (“Cars 2”, cough, cough).

    But as the promotions for this movie became ubiquitous, and the trailers started coming out, I have to say, I’ve finally joined the bandwagon proudly awaiting this movie! I too am a university student, so I think that this will be very referential to my life!

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m pretty sure that it must be amazing 🙂 !

    • Kenzie (manicmation) June 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      Oh it so is. I too was hesitant about a sequel/prequel. But Pixar handled it amazingly. I think that’s why it took 12 years. They didn’t want to make a sequel to the sake of it. They waited until a good story presented itself.

      Which was Mike as a University student. And does it work.

      And thank you! I’ve had a lot of stuff come up this month, but I’m hopefully going to be publishing once a week from here on out.

      • The Animation Commendation June 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

        Looking forward to your amazing articles! I wonder what unshavedmouse is going to do with “The Lion King” this week, lol!

  2. perrigoredoyle June 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    I saw that film as well; I liked Mike’s place in the story especially. They really evolved his character from a sort of straight-man with his heart in the right place to something much deeper.
    Also, it’s great to see you posting again; my animation tank has been somewhat dry these past few weeks.

    • Kenzie (manicmation) June 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      Thank you so much! I hope to do an article a week. I’m going to start on my next one tonight!

      And yes, I especially liked how this was Mike’s story, and Monsters Inc is Sulley’s story.

  3. Jayden-G July 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    It is great to see you back.

    Monsters Inc is very nostalgic for me too, since it is the most time I remember going to the theatres.

    I have not watched MU yet, but I heard that it is better than the so called “WEAK 4” (Cars series, Brave, and A Bugs Life), but not the best Pixar film. I was more than worried about this movie, but it seems like it is ding better than I thought, and this article is getting rid of my worries about this movie.

    • Kenzie (manicmation) July 8, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      Yeah, I wouldn’t call it the best Pixar film.

      I never heard to them referred as the “weak 4”. Which makes me sad, bc A Bug’s Life is so underrated and well done. But gets forgotten a lot. Cars as well, but it was just murdererd by be merchandised to death. And I can see what Cars 2 and Brave are considered weak! XD

      • Jayden-G July 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

        I know, I just created the term “Weak 4”, kind of like what fans do with the early Renaissance films, like “The Big 4” and such.

        I agree with you about A Bug’s Life, just because the company is getting better, and is not as popular as the series that the movie is sandwiched between. I wouldn’t say Cars is weak, but the execution is not right at times, but better than I thought.

  4. jlwalser July 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Nice article! I thought it was very refreshing to see Pixar work their old magic on this film. I laughed the whole way through it. I also agree with you on the theme of the movie. It really was great to have Pixar share that message through the film.

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