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.
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?
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-