Posts Tagged ‘Monster’s University’


A13How do you make a movie for kids about monsters whose job it is to scare children without doling out nightmares along with the price of a ticket? That’s the fine line Pixar treads with their new film, “Monster’s University,” a very kid friendly mix of “Bad News Bears,” (without the drunk coach), “Mean Girls” (without the unadulterated nastiness) and “Carrie” (without the murderous rage).

Starring the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Helen Mirren, instead, it features strong messages and more complex characters than usual for a kid’s flick.

In this prequel to “Monsters Inc.” Mike Wazowski is a one-eyed–actually he’s mostly eye–green monster whose dream is to scare unsuspecting kids and capture their screams. Enrolling in the Harvard of Horror, Monster’s University, he’s a good student, devouring books on the five essential components of a scary roar and the like, but there’s a problem. He’s not as scary as his classmates, particularly Sullivan (Goodman), a blue beast with a family background in haunting kid’s dreams. In fact, he’s not scary at all. But determined to prove everyone wrong, Mike and the misfits of Oozma Kappa compete in the Scare Games, a spooky showdown to determine which frat house is the most gruesome.

There’s nothing particularly scary about “Monster’s University.” Very young viewers might be disturbed by the dramatic entrance of Mrs. Hardscrabble (Mirren), a winged dragon lady who scurries around on insect legs, but by and large the key word here is fun not fright.

The animation is top notch with creature designs that bring to mind plush toys. This campus full of multi-headed girls and tentacled boys, with blue, green and red skin that feels like Dr. Seuss gone wild. It’s fanciful eye candy that kids should love.

With the visuals comes messaging about perseverance, bullying and the virtues of honesty all set in an utterly unique world of Pixar’s creation. The story may be a prequel and have call-backs to other films but director Dan Scanlon pushes the story into unexpected territory. A predictable ending is avoided, and even though it forwards the iffy notion–MILD SPOILER!!!–that life experience is more valuable than school, it brings the movie to a satisfying conclusion.

“Monster’s University” once again exerts Pixar’s dominance in animation by giving audiences great characters and taking equal care with the visuals and the story.

Billy Crystal: My grandkids called me Mike Wazowski for a year By Richard Crouse Metro Canada June 20, 2013

monsters_university_trailer_japaneseBilly Crystal’s fourth and most recent grandchild was born on March 14. “Born on my, I hate to say it, 65th birthday,” he says. “No! I love to say it, because I’m here and it’s good.”

The “here” is a Toronto press junket for Monster’s University, a prequel to the Oscar winning Monster’s Inc.

In both he voices Mike Wazowski, a green eyeball creature whose goal in life is to scare kids. I ask if his grandchildren have seen either film. “The little guy’s seen everything,” he jokes, “I’m a night light.”

The three older kids were introduced to the movie in a scary way.

“The girls and I were walking in a mall and some of these paparazzi — I have to say it — creeps, jumped out and started taking pictures of us. Really freaked them out. ‘Why are they doing that!” So I had to explain to them what I did. That I was internationally famous…” (pauses for the laugh).

“So I showed them Monster’s Inc. I couldn’t show them the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally. ‘Why is she making that noise?’ Then I became Grandpa Mike. I had to be Mike Wazowski for about a year. They’d call the house, ‘Is Mike there?’ ‘OK, I’ll get him. Hold on.’ (Pauses.) ‘Hi!’ (he says in Wazowski’s distinctive high-pitched voice.) ‘Are you looking for me?’

“Now they see me around. There were billboards when I did the Oscars so now they are kind of used to it.

“It’s confusing to me! It was, ‘Who’s that guy?’ They watch the same things over and over and over and over again. And over again. And over again. We were watching Dora the Explorer exploring the same thing and then I was looking at the guide and I saw that City Slickers was on. I took the remote. ‘Let’s see what else is on. There I am!’ She actually just said, ‘How?’

“Now it’s like bragging rights at school, but we’re trying to play it down. We live in a town where a lot of the kid’s parents are performers. We read book at their school every two weeks, and there are a lot of famous parents.”

When I ask if they and their friends will ever realize how cool it is that the “internationally famous” Billy Crystal read to them he laughs, “I think OK, but Will Ferrell read the day before.”