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July 6, 2013

Weekend reviews: 'Monsters University' holds relevance

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The Daily Star

---- — I remember quite clearly seeing “Monsters, Inc.” for the first time, when it was first released in theaters. I believe I was in first grade, and my mother brought me and my sister to the theater at Southside, where we met up with my mother’s best friend and her children.

With a premise focusing on the idea of an alternate world where monsters crept into children’s bedrooms at night to scare them and, in turn, provide a source of energy to their cities, the film proved to be a hit and has continued to be popular.

“Monsters, Inc.” is often played on television and quoted in pop culture even 10 years later, but I am sure no one believed that a sequel or spin-off would happen, or even be necessary to further enhance the audience’s understanding of the plot.

It was perhaps well over a year ago when I first caught wind of a second “Monsters, Inc.” It seems as if nowadays movie companies just sort of rehash or repackage older movies in order to make money, and I wasn’t sure how another film would turn out.

On a recent family vacation, my siblings suggested going to the movies on a rainy day to see the new film, “Monsters University.” I wasn’t too thrilled with their choice, but figured that since it was a family trip I would just suck it up and take the free trip to the movies.

Besides, Pixar movies, despite their slight cheesiness, usually have some pretty comical situations, so I figured I wouldn’t mind it too much. However, based on it being marketed as a family movie, I knew the film’s depiction of the college experience wouldn’t necessarily be completely accurate, and would probably entertain my younger brother more than myself and older sister.

Ten minutes in to the film, I was already pleasantly surprised. My sister and I might have laughed harder than my brother throughout the entirety of the movie.

The film primarily focuses on Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and his journey to his dream college, where he hopes to pursue a career in scaring. Mike is already established with the audience from the first film, and has been characterized as silly and outspoken, with his famous round, lime-green body and one large eye.

Mike defies expectations and his bullies, who since childhood had told him that he wasn’t scary, and begins his freshman year at Monsters University in the scaring department. The audience watches as Mike experiences classic first-year things such as move-in day and meeting roommates (Mike’s is fellow scarer Randall, also from the first movie), adjusting to class schedules, and getting involved in extracurriculars.

Mike encounters more negative feedback from peers who hold the belief that he won’t make it as a scarer; one such peer is James P. “Sully” Sullivan, whose claim to fame is his father, a well-known scarer at Monsters, Inc.

After initially butting heads and developing a rivalry, Sully and Mike form an unlikely friendship with the college’s wimpiest fraternity and enter a scaring competition, hoping to prove themselves as the scariest monsters on campus.

I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the film and laughing hysterically at all the jokes and silly characters. I fancy myself as a sophisticated film watcher, but I couldn’t doubt the effectiveness of the movie.

Despite it being a cute, feel-good summer film, I really enjoyed the film’s overall message: not to limit yourself to what others believe you to be; if you have a dream, you do whatever you can to reach it, without hurting others on the way there.

I also found it a nice marketing tool that Monsters University was released as my class finished its freshman year, and another group of students just graduated high school. It was almost as if the monsters were growing up with the children who loved them originally.

Maggie McVey, a 2012 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a rising sophomore at the State University College at Plattsburgh. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.