Film Review: Monsters University

Reviewed by Sam Robinson

Rated G. Starring the voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman.

[Stars: 3/5]

Sequels from Disney Pixar can be a scary beast (no pun intended). The two Toy Story sequels were a great success, building upon the charm of the original and leaving this reviewer in tears. But Cars 2 stank worse than a petrol station, a film that seemed more set on selling merchandise to kids than telling a decent story.

The latest sequel – actually it’s a prequel – Monsters University is set before the events that we saw in 2001’s Monsters Inc. The story takes us to the first meeting of monster odd couple Mike Wazowski (Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (Goodman) as they enrol in college with aspirations of being professional scarers. At first they are rivals of sorts, but slowly build a friendship as they are forced to work alongside a team of monsters seriously lacking in social skills.

Monsters University hasn’t got the same heart that Monsters Inc. had – possibly due to the lack of character Boo – but it certainly caters for the considerably-older returning audience. The jokes fly fast and the group of outcast monsters bring most of the laughs. There are some nice twists and turns but I was surprised we didn’t see more of Randall. The film suggests at the start he might be a key player but he becomes fairly transparent (OK – that pun was intended).

For Mike and Sulley, they are in the scaring business. They are being trained to frighten children, in order to gain energy from their screams. They want to be feared.

But as the movie progresses, it’s revealed that they don’t just want to be feared by children, they also want to be feared by monsters. Sulley has a huge struggle with this – he wants to impress others and live up to the standard that his celebrity father has set.

We are very much like this each and every day. A book that I’ve read recently is When People are Big, and God is Small, by Ed Welch. It talks about this major heart problem we have called Fear of Man. You might know it as peer pressure. We want to impress others and want others to hold us in high regard. But in doing this we are forgetting that God is the only one we are to fear – that is, we are to come before him in awe and reverence, and to seek his approval above all.

Proverbs 29:25 says:

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Sulley has a fear of monsters. We have a fear of man. But continuing to live this way will only become a trap for us. It can lead us to idolise others and become people-pleasers who in the end will control us, instead of us worshipping God alone. What we need is to ask God to help us to fear him, to trust him in everything, to grasp his worthiness of worship, and to cling to the cross which allows us to do all this.

Monsters University is a film that is entertaining for all ages and a sequel well worth watching. I’m giving it three out of five stars.

Monsters University is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming on Quickflix.

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