Pixar’s 2001 hit “Monsters Inc.” revolved around one great premise: What if the monsters that lurk underneath children’s beds, were actually terrified of the kids? It was a great gag, and the rest of the film fell into place around it. Also adding immensely to the film’s charm were the contrasting comedic styles of the film’s well-selected voice actors: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi.
I can’t tell you if the prequel, “Monsters University,” is as good, because Goodman, Crystal et al have been replaced in the Japanese version by local voice-actors, and while they do a good job of expressing the characters the result is aimed far more at children, missing a lot of the more clever jokes that Pixar tends to lace through their films.”Monsters University” is the origin story for loquacious walking eyeball Mike and hulking blue furball Sully; it imagines the two at monster college, where they major in how to scare human kids. While Mike studies hard, but is too tiny and comical to frighten anyone, and Sully is scary enough, but a slacker who squanders his natural talent; together they must pool their talents, overcome their differences, and yadda-yadda-yadda. Great Randy Newman score, some inspired sight gags, and a sure way to let your 6-year-old learn early on that school is all about cliques, and that the people who tend to run in them are often jerks.