‘Monsters U’ ventures into new territory
Pixar has a pretty solid track record when it comes to sequels (think “Toy Story”). But until “Monsters University,” a new origin story set several years before the action of “Monsters Inc.,” the acclaimed animation shop had never attempted a prequel.
The characters Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are funny enough and their relationship rich enough to make the back story worth telling. Set at the titular Monsters University, the film is the story of how freshmen monsters Mike and Sulley — aspiring students of the fine art of scaring — met and became fast friends. It’s also the story of how they became, more essentially, themselves.
Where “Monsters Inc.” was a heavily plot-driven tale, “Monsters University” is a two-monster character study. It may be children’s terror that powers the movie’s fictional universe, but it’s the energy of its stars that lights up “Monsters University.”
The DVD (Disney, $30) includes commentary and “The Blue Umbrella” animated short from Pixar. The Blu-ray editions ($40-$50) add featurettes, a documentary on Randy Newman’s musical scores, a behind-the-scenes visit with the animators and deleted scenes.
Colin Covert says: Compared with the triumphant “Wall-E,” “The Incredibles,” the “Toy Story” films and “Up,” this inessential prequel needs some tutoring. It’s warm. It’s likable. It’s crisply animated. It’s an underachiever.