Animadversion: Monsters University by Kamran Jawaid

This post is the original, unedited, copy of the review published in Images on Sunday – Dawn Newspaper, on 21 July 2013. The review here has a different headline.


The ‘Best’, most ‘Awesomest’, G-rated College Eva!

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

As Pixar’s second sequel Monsters University (MU) has a lot of pressure to live up to. Comparisons would be made to Monsters Inc. – its predecessor that takes place in the future. Opinions would differ (as they are), and more often than not, people (and critics) wouldn’t get the point – – or would be too hard-headed to admit the qualities that’s staring them in the face.

This is Pixar’s 14th feature length release, and considering its 27 Academy Award wins (the tally includes Animated Shorts) there would be something they’re doing right…right?!


Okay, so the animation powerhouse – like every evolving enterprise – isn’t fallible, but, thankfully today’s not that day.

MU is about Mike Wazowski’s college days (initially voiced by Noah Johnson and then Billy Crystal), where he first meets Sulley (John Goodman), contends and head-butts rivalries, and manages to tick off a horrific-looking principal on a perpetual bad-day (voiced by Helen Mirren). In the interim he (and Sulley) grows up.

For the sake of not spoiling the film, let me just stop the synopsis right here, and concentrate on the film’s strengths.

Basking in unassuming down-to-earth warmth, MU is a college movie, and should be treated as such. The trick was to make it (a) accessible, (b) not sound like a prequel, (c) stay away from artificiality, and (d) retain the feel of a college movie – with, of course, a ‘G’ censor rating (no liquor or late night shenanigans here folks).


MU is also, what I consider, a screenwriter’s guide to writing a successful motion picture. It accomplishes grounded characters that you are compelled to synchronize your emotions with. Everyone – and I do mean everyone – on whatever minute time available to them, goes through individual conflicts and resolutions without turning to gimmicky, overused, stuffed-in story points.

A hard juggling act, you say? You have no idea.

As a film critic, I deliberately try to stay away from words like: ‘all-time’ or ‘best’ or ‘awesome’. For MU – possibly the most engaging continuation in the history of film – I feel compelled to make an exception.

It is possibly the ‘best’, ‘awesome’ sequel, that immediately cozies itself into my ‘all-time’ favorites within a span of 94 minutes. Believe you me, that ain’t no easy feat.

Directed by Dan Scanlon; Written by Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird and Scanlon, ‘Monsters University’ is released by Disney and Pixar. The film is rated G – for ‘Generally’ everyone. You’re missing something great if you haven’t made up your mind to get the film’s tickets by now.

The published version is here:

July 21 2013 (FullPage)

July 21 2013 (Monsters Uni)


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