Pixar made a smart move by shifting the Monsters Inc. franchise back to the good ol’ school past instead of into the future for their second film, Monsters University, especially after that huge gap of years from the last movie. That being said, it is interesting how a prequel can often function very much like a sequel does – with somewhat different dynamics, i.e. information from the previous movie will feed your knowledge of the next one. In the case of a sequel, it will already establish the characters; in the case of a prequel, it will already establish the characters and the ultimate ending of the movie.
Hence, I would tell a first time viewer of the Monsters Inc. franchise to watch Monsters University first. Why? ‘Cause you will bridge that gap of slight dissatisfaction that Monsters Inc. fans may face when heading back to the past, i.e. there is no Boo. Having no knowledge about her and her existence will probably make Monsters University a lot more lighthearted and fun.
Because, after all, that is what Monsters University sets out to be as a whole, a coming-to-age story told from the perspective of one Mike Wazowski (his very own bildungsroman if you will). There is no lack of cute factor from this movie, for those worried about the gaping hole that needs to be filled from the lack of cuteness Boo supplies. Mike Wazowski as a kid and all the monster children in the beginning of the film will definitely make you ‘aww’.
Mike’s own huge ambition sets the premise of the film’s storyline: his determination to go to Monsters University and graduate (with honors) as the best scarer of his generation. The obvious problem being that he is not scary in the least.
While watching the film, you can find a number of relevant points any freshman in college may have to battle with. The overwhelming feeling of being in your first class in college and, sometimes, like in the case of Mike, a realisation that you may want a particular dream career, but at the end of the day, the industry may not want you.
So, if you’re planning to watch Monsters University, then by all means do. If you expect something beyond epic, you will be disappointed. If you expect some lighthearted collegian fun and comedy with sprinkles of warmth and heart, then you will not, ’cause Pixar always delivers in that department.
For those being dragged along to see it by their girlfriend or younger cousins or maybe just by your childlike curiosity or boredom, then here are two things that will make you a little less disgruntled. 1. the Pixar short in the beginning, The Blue Umbrella and 2. the potential to spot one of the dozen of easter eggs that Pixar drops into their films (if you’ve already watched the film and want a rundown of what they are Business Insider has a good list of some of them).
As for me, someone who grew up watching Monsters Inc. when I was eleven countless times, immersing myself back into the monster world was escapism at its best. Sometimes you need to separate yourself from being a critic and watch a movie for what the producers and directors intend for it to be: entertaining.
Till next time,