Monsters University: No diploma for this one

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJune 20, 2013 

Monsters University is a prequel to the 2001 Pixar/Disney hit Monsters Inc. Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their roles as the voices of round, one-eyed Mike Wazowski and hulking James P. Sullivan. The story is how they met at Monsters University.

The two did not start out as fast friends.

Wazowski is desperate to be a scary monster and becomes an expert in everything that frightens children. Sullivan is naturally frightening and could not care less about studying. They rub each other the wrong way. Both are in danger of being tossed from the campus and out of school. A contest of scaremanship puts the two together and teams them with the least popular frat house on campus.

Celebs providing voices include Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Bonnie Hunt and the ubiquitous John Ratzenberger. All do wonderful work. It's the movie that is the letdown.

Monsters University is as "not" fun as the 2001 original Monsters Inc. was fun.

It takes forever for first-time writer/director Dan Scanlon and teammates Robert L. Baird and Daniel Gerson to get the movie moving. One possible reason is writing credits that do not include anything of their own. The team credits are just for writing "additional material" for Tangled Ever After, a short based on the movie Tangled, and for Cars and Meet the Robinsons.

Monsters University feels like "additional material."

Much of dialogue of Monsters University is going to zip over the heads of children. No doubt, the people at Pixar and Disney are targeting those who grew up with the original characters. They range from mid-teens to early 20s. So there are long stretches where the youngest among us will be bored out of their skulls.

This isn't to say that the film is a complete loss. A few of the bits, like the initiation sequence at the geeky frat house, are hilarious. There just aren't enough of them.

The premise of the now-series is monsters in the closet scare children to provide energy for Monstropolis. On a laugh scale, this one barely provides enough energy to light a small LED.

Director: Dan Scanlon

Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Helen Hunt, John Ratzenberger

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Rated G. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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