Thursday, November 7, 2013

Monsters University...The REVIEW!

Have you ever wondered how Mike and Sully from Disney/Pixar's 2001 mega hit Monsters, Inc. met? We knew they had been friends for a LONG time, but just HOW did their friendship start? Well, of course, they met when they were young and were instant best friends from that moment on...right? RIGHT? Well, you'd be surprised to learn the TRUTH! And the truth you'll learn in the all new Disney/Pixar hit Monsters University! 

Now, for any of you who've read our previous reviews, you know already that we're not into posting spoilers. If you've not seen a movie we cover well, we certainly don't want to spoil anything for you! So, we'll give you a 'feeling' for the movie so you can decide for yourself if it's something you'd like to explore yourself! With that being said...

Little Wazowski!
Monsters University  starts off with a very young Mike Wazowski (once again voiced by Billy Crystal) in grammar school. He and his classmates are paying a special visit to Monsters, Inc for a career day of sorts. The teacher instructs all the students to pair off, and poor Mike is left all alone. Seems no one is interested in being his friend. So, the teacher agrees to accompany Mike inside. Once there, Mike, as well as all his classmates, are awe-struck by the workings of the Monsters world source of electricity, and especially the Scarers! After a little incident involving Mike and one of Monsters, Inc.'s top Scarers, our cyclopian friend sets his sights on becoming a model student and getting in to the Monsters University coveted Scare Program! 

Mike Left Out

Of course, Mike studies hard all through school and gets accepted into Monster U. AND, into the Scare Program! Joining him in the intro session to the Scare Program is a young party animal and Scare Legacy Jimmy P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman). Jimmy, coming from a family of successful Scarers, basically coasts through life, banking on the family name to get him through the tough times school has handed him. And you've probably guessed it by now, Mike and Sully's first meeting was NOT a pleasant one. Mike resents Sully because he's lazy, doesn't study and only relies on his natural ability to lay the scare on! Sully does nothing by the book. Sully isn't very fond of Mike either. Mike studies hard, gets all the 'book' answers right and has impressed the instructors with his hard work and knowledge. Typical jock versus nerd, right? 
Mike Knows The Answer, while Sully Kicks Back

Dean Hardscrabble
Well, as luck would have it, Mike and Sully cause quite the commotion during a big test and the resulting hilarity forces the two enemies into working together for their own good! After getting kicked out of the Scare Program, Mike issues a challenge to Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren)  for the fate of not just his own future, but that of Sully AND their newly adopted fraternity, well, trust me, the action and comedy rivals (if not exceeds) that of the original film. 

Joining Mike and Sully in their escapades are new characters like the two headed Terry Perry (voiced by Sean P. Hays and Pixar alum Dave Foley), Art (voiced by Charlie Day), Don (voiced by Joel Murray).  With an all-star supporting cast, and a wonderful score by Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee and award winning composer Randy Newman, Monsters University is definitely a new Disney/Pixar classic. 
Mike & Sully's New Frat Brothers

At the "Scare Games

A few things you'll notice about Monsters University really set this Pixar outing leagues ahead of previous animated movies. Notice the incredible detail the animators have mastered. When we watched Monsters University, it was at times easy to forget you're watching a cartoon and not high quality HD live footage - well, until the monsters enter the scene that is! And although this is a classic Disney movie, complete with a moral of the story plot, it seems to me at least that Pixar has perfected the art of story telling without being overly hokey or sappy. They've taken elements and plot lines from the original and tailored them to fit into this movie, making it seem almost as if they had this movie planned out before Monsters, Inc. I mean, everything flowed perfectly together to 'fill in the backstory' of our favorite Monsters! And if you really pay attention, you'll see some 'hidden' shout-outs to Monsters, Inc. as well. We'll let YOU discover those for yourself! 

All in all, Monsters University is everything we expected it to be and more. When we first heard about this film during the 2011 Disney D23 Expo, we were excited that Disney was going to explore Mike and Sully's first meeting. And we were not disappointed at all. Billy Crystal and John Goodman rock the house with their performances, and actually portray all the emotions their characters experience perfectly. Disney says the theme of this movie is all about self-discovery and the hardships of growing up and reassessing your goals. Well, I don't know about all that, but I DO know that Monsters University is an instant classic and a MUST have for anyone who love Disney, or even anyone who just loves a great movie!
Good Ol' Monsters U!

Of course, Monsters University is available now, and on the following formats:
  • 4 Disc Blu-Ray 3-D Superset (3D+Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy) SRP $49.99
  • 3 Disc Blu-Ray 2-D Superset (Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy) SRP $39.99
  • 3 Disc Blu-Ray Combo Pack (Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy) SRP $29.99
For all of the Blu-Ray sets, the following special features are included: 
  • Campus Life - What's it like being on a production crew at Pixar? Get a look at a day in the life of the "Monsters University" crew through their own eyes
  • Story School - This documentary examines the challenges of creating a prequel as well as themes that run through the story, and the change in focus from Sulley to Mike.  We'll also look at how gags are developed – from writing jokes to brainstorming a million ideas, only 5% of which actually end up in the movie
  • Scare Games - At Pixar, we play hard while we work.  The same people who keep the film production moving - producers, managers, coordinators and artists - are also the ones who bring spirit and excitement to some of our extracurricular activities. We check out the MU production teams as they go head to head in the mostly playful Pixar Scare Games competitions. 
  • Welcome To MU - Sets aren't just buildings, they are the worlds our characters live in and explore.  This look at the Monsters University campus and its development is told from the perspective of the artists who created each piece of the campus from the architecture to the ivy leaves
  • Music Appreciation - – Randy Newman's scores are a mainstay of Pixar films, and this documentary will give you a privileged look at his creative process.  We follow the “Monsters University” scoring process from spotting to writing and on to the scoring session. including special college-themed recording sessions
  • Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective – Explore the difficulties in creating characters that are 20 years younger with tools that are 10 years more advanced in this contrasting look at the differing technical challenges that arose when making “Monsters, Inc.,” and “Monsters University.”
  • Deleted Scenes – Four separate scenes – “Rivalry,” “Recon,” “Movie Night,” and “Drama Class” - are highlighted with an introduction from director Dan Scanlon.
  • The Blue Umbrella” – This animated short film from Pixar Animation Studios, directed by Saschka Unseld and produced by Marc Greenberg, played in theaters in front of "Monsters University." “The Blue Umbrella” tells the story of an evening commute in which the rain starts to fall and the city comes alive to the sound of dripping rain pipes, whistling awnings and gurgling gutters. And in the midst, two umbrellas—one blue, one not—fall eternally in love.
  • Additional Bonus Features - Audio Commentary, Promo Picks, College Campaign, Theatrical Campaign, Set Flythroughs, Art Gallery and more!


Mike Wazowski and James P. ‘Sulley’ Sullivan are an inseparable pair, but that wasn’t always the case. From the very first moment these two mismatched monsters met, they couldn’t stand each other. The latest Pixar movie, Monsters University, unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences to become the best of friends.

With the Blu-ray and DVD of Monsters University about to be released, we chat with Billy Crystal – the voice of Mike Wazowski – for some insider information on the making of the Pixar prequel to Monsters, Inc. 

What was it like to return to the recording booth for the movie? What was Billy Crystal like in college? And what does he think of the younger version of Wazowski seen in the new animation? We catch up with the acclaimed actor to find out… 

How does it feel to return to the character of Mike Wazowski in Monsters University? 
It feels great. I love being this little guy. He’s my favorite character I’ve ever played in anything I have ever done. I don’t know what it is about him, but he’s so infectious to me. I love him. 

What excites you most about the return of the monsters of Monsters, Inc.? 
One of the great things about this movie is that the kids who went to see the first movie are now college age. When the first movie came out in 2001, John Goodman [who voices Sulley] and I hosted several screenings for kids in New York. All those kids, and kids throughout the world, were 6 or 7 years old back then. They are now the same age that Mike and Sulley are in the movie, so they can look at it in a totally different light. We recently screened the movie for about 400 film students at USC and they went berserk because the movie is about them. They are making the same decisions in their lives that Mike and Sulley are making in the movie. 

When it comes to the recording booth for the movie, did you record your voice alongside John Goodman? 
We always do that. In the very beginning, I said, “Can John come and work with me in the recording booth?” They said, “Well, we didn’t ask him. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen didn’t do it on Toy Story.” I said to them, “Well, get him in here and see if he’ll do it.” We soon started to work together in there and then great things started to happen. 

Why is it better for you to work together in the recording booth? 
There were scenes that could not be done unless we were together, like the quiet moments at the lake in Monsters University. They are very powerful scenes, but we weren’t looking at our scripts. We knew our lines and we were able to act very closely together, just like in the movie. I think it really shows. 

How would you describe the personality of Mike Wazowski? 
Mike loves to be in charge and he is very driven. I understand him completely. He doesn’t take disappointment easily and he’s always hoping for the best. I dig that.

You mention that Mike doesn’t take disappointment easily. When was the last time you felt disappointed?
I’m constantly disappointed. 
I was disappointed this morning when they said I was going to be working until 5pm! There are constant disappointments in my life. ‘This movie didn’t work well, that didn’t work well; they don’t want to make this, they don’t want to make that…’ There is always something going on, whether it’s in business or in your personal life. Most of the time, your day never really works out the way you want it to work out.

What’s your life motto, Billy?
I got an award at the Geffen Playhouse a while ago, and it was a really lovely night. When I accepted the award, I said to the crowd, “My grandfather said something which was really profound to me. He said, ‘If you hang around a store long enough, soon or later someone is going to give you something.’ So thanks for this!” [Laughs] I don’t know if I have one of those shiny mottos like, ‘Keep your sunny side up!’ Or, ‘Don’t turn your umbrella upside down!’ I just think, ‘Be happy you’re here, and just keep trying to keep yourself happy.’ 

What’s been your greatest achievement?
Professionally? That I’m still around! This year is turning out to be one of my busiest ever. I’ve had Monsters University and I wrote a book. Plus, I’m going back to Broadway with my one-person show. If there is one thing I loved in particular, it was doing [the play] 700 Sundays on Broadway – as well as all of the tours. That’s why we are going to do it one more time on Broadway.  

Let’s step back in time, Billy… What were you like in college?
I was two different guys. At first, I went to school to play baseball – but that didn’t work out, so I transferred home to a junior college where they had a fantastic acting program. That’s where I really went nuts. I was exactly like Mike. I was heavily involved with everything. “Let’s do this, let’s do that!” We built a theater and I got my Actors’ Equity Card – and then I went to film school at NYU. 

What did you study at NYU? 
To this day, I don’t know why I went to NYU as a directing major. This was nearly 50 years ago and I’ve no idea why I didn’t go as an acting major. I guess I was drawn to directing. I directed various stage projects and I’d made some home movies, so I always liked it. 

What was life like at NYU? 
As soon as I got there, I went quiet because I was really out of my element. All of the young students were real filmmakers. There was Oliver Stone, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean. Well, Chris was in the acting school but we took film classes together. And my film professor was Martin Scorsese, who was a graduate student not much older than us. 

What was Martin Scorsese like back then? 
This was 1968 to 1970, and he was an intense guy. He had long hair, a big beard and granny glasses. He was inspirational, but I couldn’t keep up with everything because I was a performer in my heart. Marty was very fluent in movies and he was extremely passionate about them, but I really felt like I wanted to be in front of people. I wanted to be a performer.  

You famously hosted The Academy Awards for nine years. Would it be a thrill to host them again? Or would it scare you?
I don’t get scared. My fears are always, ‘Can I be better than I was?’ They haven’t asked me and they probably won’t ask – but if they do, I would listen. However, it’s not something I’m eager to do at this point in my life. As your choices get narrower and your chances to do other things get smaller, I would rather do other things than go back to something I’ve done before. 

What scared you when you were younger? 
To be honest, I still don’t love the darkness. The unknown has always been a little scary to me. Other than that, my Aunt Sheila was terrifying [when I was a child]. She’d put a napkin to her mouth and she’d say, “You’ve got something on your face, dear.” It would be like, ‘Let me just scratch that off your face; let me sand down your cheek!’ 

Have people written bad things about you online?
At times, yes. But they do it to everybody. Listen, no one likes to wake up knowing that someone doesn’t like them in the morning, but that’s the way it’s got to be. I don’t answer back. You can’t engage them because you don’t know who they are. It’s a weird world that we have uncovered. There are a lot of anonymous people out there on Twitter and anyone who can press ‘send’ is a potential critic. You get the good and the bad; not everyone is going to like it and I get that – but there is a meanness in some people. 

What are your thoughts on the fact that a lot of movie writers and actors are moving to the small screen?
I think the best writing is in television right now. I honestly do. What shows do I like? Elementary is great. Johnny Lee Miller is good. He and Lucy Liu are very good together. I also watch [comedian] Louis C.K. whenever he’s on television, but the best show is The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Apart from watching television, how else do you relax?
I love being with the kids. And playing golf is a very nice way to get away from everybody and turn everything off. Sometimes, I might not even play a hole; I’ll just walk. Lately, I’ve also been drawing a little. I’ve been fooling around to see what comes out. And I also write. I can’t say it was hard work to write my latest book because it was very comforting to get on a computer every day. I really enjoyed writing it.

What can you tell us about the new book?
It’s a book about aging. I wrote it when I was approaching 65, which was in March 2013. I thought I would go out on the road and perform the things I wrote about – but then they became more like essays, so it became more of a book than a concert. I gave it to my literary agent and he said, “This is good.” So we sold it as a book, and I just kept going and going. It became a memoir about my 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. It’s very funny, about a man getting older – and it’s called Still Fooling Them. That’s a mantra of mine right before I go out on stage. I really looked forward to working on my computer. Even though it was work, it was very cathartic. I loved it. 

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