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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Monsters University

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Pardon my irreverence, but I think it is a bit presumptuous to expect a regular filmgoer to be concerned with how a couple of animated characters came to be friends in the distant past. I did see Monsters Inc (2001), but jeez, it was a long time ago and I haven’t exactly been holding my breath to learn the guys’ back story – in fact, I can’t remember a thing about what they did when they first appeared.

Nevertheless, somebody at Pixar decided that there was a buck to be made out of revisiting them (sequels and investing in proven winners rule, OK?), and with the school hols blighting our visits to the cinema, I guess it makes perfect financial sense. I only wish I could say that the movie is unadorned rubbish from go to whoa – but I’m kicking myself in admitting that I quite enjoyed it. Voicings count for a lot in any cartoon, but in this they are absolutely critical.

Once again, Billy Crystal is Mike, the diminutive, one-eyed green wannabe monster, and John Goodman is Sullivan, his big, hairy, purple spotted buddy who is not a million miles away in temperament from Goodman’s Dan Connor (in TV’s iconic Roseanne). Ostensibly this is one of those college dramas that are so loved by American writers. Mike and Sullivan come together to perfect their craft of scaring kids. They are on the outer and, with a handful of other dags, they must compete against the alpha-males to establish their bona fides.

What presents itself as a standard morality tale along the lines of ‘I think I can, I think I can … I knew I could’ deviates from its predictable outcome in a most unexpected and rewarding way. The contributions of Crystal and Goodman, who know their parts inside-out, are outstanding, particularly in the third act of self-realisation.

To say that it is heart-warming might be overstating it, but it has a homespun intelligence that towers over the wankery of Fast and Furious.

John Campbell

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