When Monsters, Inc. came out in 2001, it was all about the fur and it was game changing. Nothing in animation had matched it, and it had a great and unusual story to boot. I will say that Monsters U. has set the bar higher again, and not just because 12 years of technology have accrued. It really is boundary pushing, jaw-dropping animation. If only the story was as unique.
The voice talent is, of course, stellar. In addition to the returning Crystal and Goodman, you get the joy of Mirren, Busemi, Fillion, Molina, Hayes, and Foley. And, of course, many others. Fillion, smarmier than ever, and Mirren, in a delightfully nasty roll, constantly threaten to steal the show, but the editing of the story prevents that from happening.
And, generally, the story is a solid, but pretty standard and predictable one, with little surprise and little risk. There is practically no line or action you couldn’t have guessed before it hits the screen. There is still a good amount of heart, but it feels more manipulative than earned this round.
At the end, Monsters U. did make want to see the original again and rewatch the story it kicks off. That, if nothing else, told me it had succeeded on some emotional level. But I think that was more a trick of the final moments than the movie as a whole. We waited a long time for this next installment and it isn’t bad, it just didn’t meet expectations for me given the original’s unique quality.