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Review: Monsters University

I’m not really a movie person. It makes my husband nuts, actually. I tend to press pause a lot if we’re watching at home, and I can’t sit still at the movie theater, either. I get up and go to the bathroom a lot. It takes a really, really good movie to get me to stay in my seat. Tonight I stayed in my seat the entire time while watching Monsters University. It was that good.

Monsters University is the latest animated romp from kid movie maker extraordinaire, Pixar/Walt Disney Pictures. We were lucky enough to see a preview of the movie, which launches June 21, in 3D. (It’s actually a prequel to Monsters Inc., a family favorite here in this house.)

The movie provides a peek into the back stories of some of our favorite Monsters Inc. characters including Sully, voiced by John Goodman and our hero Mike Wazowski, who gets his voice from Billy Crystal. The story opens with young Mike on a field trip to Monsters Inc. where he gets to see first hand what it’s like to be a scarer, someone who scares children into screaming in order to generate electricity. When the top scarer of the time tells the kids that he learned to be a master scarer at Monsters University Mike decides that’s where he’s going to go one day.

Fast forward to Mike’s college years. (Hence the title Monsters University!) His first day there he meets the guy we know is his friend, Sully, who — it turns out — is sort of a pompous guy. He’s so scary he doesn’t think he needs to study or even try very hard. Meanwhile, Mike is there with books and pencils ready to learn as much as he can.

The plot itself is a little predictable. The two monsters become competitive and end up as rivals. The story heats up when they accidentally empty¬†Dean Hardscrabble’s record-breaking scare can. They are booted from the scare program and forced to switch majors, designing scare cans.

Not happy with their expulsion from the program, Mike makes a deal with the dean that if he win’s the school’s Scare Games he can be readmitted to the scarer program. There’s only one way to do that, though: By competing in a contest reminiscent of Revenge of the Nerds. Soon, the loser Oozma Kappas (Mike’s team) is competing against the athletic Roar Omega Roars (Sully’s team).

We all know how this ends up. After all, it’s a prequel to the movie that shows the two monsters as scarers and friends. Still, the lessons that the movie imparts are timeless:¬† Work hard. Be there for your friends. Tell the truth. Don’t cheat. You can’t judge a book by its cover. Still, getting there is all the fun, especially if you’ve got the option of seeing it in 3D.

One quick word of warning. My almost-5-year-old was a little scared of Dean Hardscrabble, calling her a witch. There were other scenes, too that helped deposit her little bottom right onto my lap. For those reasons, I’d say this movie is for kids six and up. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a reason to get out of the hot summer sun then Monsters University is it.

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