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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thinking about movies, part 1: Disney/Pixar's Monsters University

I've been mum for a bit, mainly because I wanted to give myself enough time to think about certain Disney films - ones that have been recently been released, some waiting to be released, and others that recently got canned. In this first installment, I take a look at Monsters University, which has seen some healthy Box Office numbers. That should definitely be the tipping point for a Monsters expansion in Hollywoodland at Disney California Adventure. I really hope that Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor doesn't make it's way to Disneyland's Tomorrowland, though...

There are spoilers in this article about the film. If you haven't watched it, then - well, you're missing out! And if you don't want anything spoiled, turn back now.

Before I get into this, I just wanted to say something about the Frozen trailer that was shown before the film. Yes, I was bummed that we didn't get to see Elsa or Anna (and it's admittedly frustrating that both France and Japan got more meaty trailers than we did), but perhaps Disney knows what it's doing here. They're trying to connect with an audience they fear of alienating - mainly little boys and adults that think they're too good for classic Disney stories with princesses I guess. The trailer got everyone of all ages laughing at all the appropriate moments, and we had a pretty packed theater. So perhaps marketing made the better choice here for the American audiences going to see Monsters University. On the opposite side of the spectrum, everyone was dead silent while the trailer for Planes played, and all other trailers were sparse in response to complete silence.

This... more entertaining than this.

But anyhow, it's time to look at Monsters University. Critics seemed to tear this film a new one, so I was slightly anxious. But I liked the advertising, and Monsters Inc. is a fantastic film that still gets me to tear up, so there was no way I was going to miss it.

Perhaps it's because I'm a young adult, but I greatly enjoyed it. The film advertised a fun college flick with characters that we already love plus some new ones, and that's what we got - for the most part. I think I know why some people aren't as thrilled about this flick as I am. In the original film, the audience was mostly rooting for Sulley, who was completely gooey-eyed over this adorable little girl while Mike was constantly freaking out. In this film, however, the audience is rooting for Mike, a bright-eyed kid with big dreams and drive while Sulley is mostly behaving like a jerk. That last part probably left a sour taste in some critics' mouths.

However, this film takes place during the characters' college years. Meaning - immature kids coming into adulthood. How many stupid things did you do in college? How many kids like Sulley did you run into? I felt like it was an honest representation of reality. Yes, Sulley was being a spoiled brat that seemed to think way too highly of himself, but the truth is (and it is shown in the film) is that people that behave that way in reality feel very small on the inside. And I think that showing that Sulley used to be a very different guy makes it that much sweeter that little Boo got Sulley so wrapped around her little finger.

I read from one critic that this film had no heart - I completely disagree. Again, maybe it's my age talking, but Mike's entire journey in that film felt very much like the one I've been through. Having all the drive and passion from an early age but still having someone tell you that you'll never be good enough for that profession or that thing - I think many of us can relate to that. Mike has to come to terms with the fact that he will never achieve his dreams that have essentially driven his whole life - how many of us have been there? What dreams have we held onto that we've had to part with? How many do we still hold on to? This film wasn't so much about Mike and Sulley hating each other before they became best friends - it was more about Mike's personal inner journey, that painful moment in adulthood when you realize that it's just not going to happen for you, and it's time to get real. That was what drove the story and made things really interesting. We all knew that Mike wouldn't become a top scarer, but we weren't sure how he would come to that realization or how he would handle it. This isn't something you generally see in movies, and I applaud Pixar for being so bold and not per-say doing the typical "feel-good" thing. It was much more real.

This scene was absolutely beautiful, and for so many reasons.

While we had to experience that extreme emotional turmoil with Mike, and his dreams had to be altered, there was still a happy ending, and both characters admittedly needed each other to make one whole of a super-monster. I think the film has a very nice message at the end - that it truly doesn't matter what anyone else thinks your potential is. People may reject you and there will be times where you may feel like a failure, but working hard, staying passionate about what you do and being open to tweaking your future plans can still lead you to a very happy and fulfilling life. As part of a generation that is in the middle of The Great Recession (and I don't care who tells you otherwise, I'm a regular working-class girl with a college degree and I'm in the thick of reality) that kind of message is really important to hear right now.

Also, this little guy seems to be a popular search on Google, and the boyfriend sends him to me every now and again to cheer me up:

Baby Mike!!! This image with John Krasinski was the best way to start this film.

For my next installment, I'll be talking about The Lone Ranger, and then after that, a few more details about Frozen! Don't forget to subscribe so that you won't miss them!

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