Warning: Contains spoilers***
I saw the first “Monster’s Inc.” film in the movie theatre when it first came out in 2001. I was 20 days away from turning 8. I liked it then.
And then came the prequel, “Monster’s University” in 2013. With a better understanding of films and storytelling, I comprehended the story and elements. I have studied writing and storytelling, so I have viewed the movie from a writer’s POV. I identified the plot points, characterizations, conflict, twists, and more.
Here are the elements I thought were done well:
1: The Plot Twists
Mike was desperate become a scarer. He wrote out a plan for the rest of his college career and when he made it to the real world. Regardless of what others told him, Mike was still determined to convince others that he could scare easily. When he was kicked out of the scaring program in the middle of the film, he still wouldn’t give up. After so much hard work, Mike “won” the final competition. Sully had cheated to make Mike win. Disgusted, Mike broke into the door lab and actually tried to scare, only to discover that everyone was right all along. He couldn’t scare a single child. Sully finds him, and the two return to the monster world. They get expelled, but find work in the mailing room of Monster’s Incorporated.
I appreciated how the story was not too predictable. When Mike thought he’d won the final scaring part, I was surprised to find out that he didn’t. More twists and turns occurred, and although Mike didn’t achieve his goal, the ending was still satisfying.
2: The characters’ origins before “Monster’s Inc.”
Mike dreamed of becoming a scarer. Sully bragged about being the son of a famous scarer. Randall was Mike’s first roommate and wanted to fit in with the cool kids. Their motivations evolved what they eventually became when the events of “Monster’s Inc.” began.
I knew beforehand that Mike and Sully started out as foes. I didn’t expect Randall (or Randy, as he preferred to be called) to start out as Mike’s roommate and be friendly. I felt the biggest moment for setting up the characterizations in “Monster’s Inc.” was when Mike tried to sign up for the scare games. Randy turning down Mike’s scare team hinted at how he was going to go bad. Sully offering to join, even though Mike didn’t want him, gave a clue that the two would form friendships after being enemies. These things all matter.
3: Every line of dialogue was super-important to the story
This may sound obvious to some, but every line of dialogue in any form of written or visual media needs significance to the plot. Each line represented the characters’ motivations and moved the story forward very well. I find this has done better than in some other movies.
Now onto what I didn’t exactly agree with:
1: Monsters being discriminated for not looking frightening
Although this is crucial to the plot, I found to be the equivalent to human racism. Mike was kicked out of the scaring program just because he wasn’t scary. That was discriminatory.
In fact, I am pretty sure that in real life, Mike would actually be a little scary. I don’t know about most people, but if I saw something that looked like him walking around, I would certainly freak out, because I wouldn’t expect something like him to exist.
Of course, it is not okay to fear people because of their looks. But that is my one criticism of “Monster’s University”.
I would rate this film 5 out of 5 stars. It is one of those movies I can easily watch over and over again.