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"Monsters University": Imaginary Animal House 

Friday, Jun 21 2013

By all accounts, a follow-up to Pixar's 2001 Monsters, Inc. has been on the boards since 2005, but it's just as well that it took this long for this story of how ambulatory eyeball Mike (Billy Crystal) and fuzzy purple behemoth Sully (John Goodman) became friends in college. Monsters University demonstrates how far Pixar's techniques have come in the years since the original picture; the university itself is a beautifully realized environment — a long shot of the campus during Rush Week is breathtaking — and the few scenes set in the Monsters, Inc. building and in children's bedrooms are much more fluid, with humans that remain well on the non-creepy side of the Uncanny Valley. (It's also implied the city of Monstropolis is in Pixar's own East Bay stomping grounds — the area code is 510, and Monsters, Inc. is near the Port of Oakland's famous container cranes. Explains a lot, doesn't it?) Monsters University does reprise a few Monsters, Inc. jokes, but it's less concerned with rehashing the original picture than with riffing within the template of the college movie. As such, it's not as groundbreaking as last year's Brave, but it does atone for 2011's execrable sequel Cars 2 — and as a gag delivery system alone, Monsters University can't be beat.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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