Trailer Review: Monsters University

A few months ago, I reviewed Pixar’s Cars on the blog, which I was just watching for the first time.  Cars was largely considered to be a bit of a weak link in the Pixar canon to date, and I couldn’t see why.  The colorful characters, beautiful animation and well-told story were enough for me to regard it as yet another great film in a line of modern marvels from the studio.  Though Cars 2 had been released to largely negative critical acclaim, it seemed to make sense to regard that film (which, granted, I have not seen) as a one-time only misstep in an otherwise flawless resume.

What, more of this guy could be a misstep?

It seems, however, that time may have changed that perception.  First came a constant string of comments from Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter which continued to uphold the value of Cars 2 and the brand, rather than admitting that maybe something had gone wrong here.  Then came Disney’s John Carter, the first live-action movie from Andrew Stanton, the director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, which was initially touted as Pixar’s first real venture into live action.  As we know by now, the marketing campaign made no sense, and any attempt to market this as a Pixar film was diminished early on.  And now comes Brave, which, from the sound of early buzz, seems to be a good film not up to Pixar’s previous standards.  Maybe it’s a bit much to knock a studio for something that’s currently at 76% on RottenTomatoes – but when it’s preceded by Cars 2, and, to some extent, John Carter, anything short of Pixar’s best raises a red flag.  So that’s why this teaser trailer for Pixar’s next film, Monsters University, is so alarming.  (And yes – I know it’s only a teaser trailer.  And yes, I’m aware there are plenty of stipulations on this post.)

Here’s the teaser – or, I should say, one of the four teasers…

Yep, that’s it.  And by the way, the reason there are four teasers?  There’s a different one-liner from Mike each time that Sully comes across him with the glue.  Because that’s a reason to sit through four different teasers that are, literally, the exact same in every other way.

I love Monsters, Inc. and I think it’s one of many home runs for Pixar.  But do we really need a prequel showing these guys in college?  I’m sure there are hilarity and hijinks to be had, but I find it overwhelmingly difficult to believe that Pixar had no better ideas than this.  This is a company that oozes creativity and seems to have passion for a good story over anything else – just read the Steve Jobs biography and it’s easy to see that.  So why go back to the same old well for feature ideas?  Has Pixar become a slave to the brand now, a machine that drives out sequels and prequels from its back catalog?

Presented without comment.

Even after all the negativity that’s permeated the front of this post, my guess is – hopefully – no.  A look at the company’s future slate of films should guarantee that.  The next three projects on Pixar’s docket are The Good Dinosaur (a film about a world in which dinosaurs never become extinct), a movie about the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos, and a movie about the inside of a girl’s mind.  Those sound significantly better than a Monsters, Inc. prequel to me (not that I’m the authority on this, but hey, it’s my blog).

I’ll admit that the Toy Story sequels are both fantastic, with Toy Story 3 potentially my favorite Pixar movie.  But let’s hope this is the last sequel we see from Pixar for a while.  We don’t need Up 2: Up is Down or Re-Finding Nemo any time soon, right?

Teaser Trailer Grade: C-

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One response to “Trailer Review: Monsters University

  1. Completely agree with you on this, Kevin. My initial thoughts while watching this trailer were whether this was actually the real trailer, or whether I was led astray into watching some falsely leaked bit. It didn’t do it for me at all. After watching, I also pondered (yet again) why Pixar decided to move backward with this film instead of ahead. Were there not rumors that Boo was “spotted” in a Toy Story 3 playroom scene? I’m (along with many others, I imagine) more vested in Boo’s turn out than how Mike and Scully got to be such a fun-loving pair (the thought makes me cringe). I can actually see this play out as the two hating each other, playing pranks and then having some “unspeakable horror” occur that pits the two needing to work together to solve TK problem/villain/college project?/Kappa Kappa Kappa travesty? It all seems a bit predictable, and one thing Pixar usually feigns from is just that—predictability. With that said, I suppose it was “too predictable” for the film to carry on where it left off (in Boo’s room with Sully after putting the door back together)? Think of how much trouble he could have gotten in if he continuously visited the girl after shredding the door? Imagine what would have happened had someone found off he was sneaking into a little girl’s room (a bit too dark, perhaps)? Regardless, I believe this story line had the potential to go places. Perhaps it’s just me, but the college atmosphere, feels a bit jarring for a kid’s flick. The average demographic (elementary school age kid?) isn’t thinking about college. They’re thinking about high school. The word college didn’t float around in my head while I was 8/9/10, what have you. High school just seems a more appropriate place to go; however, who wants to see Mike and Scully in teen years? No one. They wouldn’t be able to pull off using Billy Crystal and John Goodman’s vocals at pubescent ages, so, naturally, college seems the clear fit. However, am I the only one seeing a problem with the college bit in this film. I’m just not seeing the particular interest in the kids. (How can you go about showing college life without girls, parties and booze? That doesn’t seem to EVER be Disney’s message EVER.) Maybe I’m missing something, but ever since the announcement of Monsters University, I’ve always wondered how this film would pan out as a prequel rather than a (much more sensible?) sequel.

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