Monsters University      
Directed by Dan Scanlon     
Produced by Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures     
Voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi    
104 minutes      

Freshman life might be hard for someone like Mike Wazowski but he is determined to never give up. His goals are clear: he wants to be the best in every single class, to graduate summa cum laude and to become the greatest scarer of all time at Monsters Inc. Since he was just a child, working there has been his dream. It’s unfortunate that the young monster, despite his commitment and tenacity, doesn’t manage to garner the esteem of dean Hardscrabble, who doesn’t see any talent in him as a scarer. Mike ends up involved in the bravados of his classmate James P. Sullivan, and they both end up expelled from the program by the dean. Now, Mike only has one way to redeem himself and conquer his dream: to put together a team of losers (Sullivan, included), to get them in shape and to win the Scare Games, thus allowing him to re-enter the program along with his team mates.

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This second adventure in the colorful universe of Monsters, Inc. (enhanced by technically perfect animation) is both amusing and entertaining while conveying an attack against the false myth of success at any cost. The setting is perfect: school, the place where people discover their talent and how difficult it can be to develop talent and find fulfillment.

Our culture often proposes success as an idol to which to sacrifice our soul. But here Pixar shows another vision of life where success is just a possibility and where it is not more important than one’s self. The message is clear: what we want is not always what we need. And that need is to be discovered step by step along the adventure of life. However, dreams are always the best fuel.

In Monster’s University we also find a Pixar’s typical refrain. The adventure of life should never be lived alone. The main character always grows along with another character, not at his expense. It is through our friends that we find our limits and learn how to accept those of others. It is through our friends that we educate each other to love, that we lead, and are lead. The clearest example is the talented Sullivan who first must be humiliated, and ultimately must make friends with Mike in order not to waste his life due to his own pride.

If Monsters, Inc. owes its success to the concept of combining antithetical words (humans and monsters), Monsters University focuses only on Mike and Sullivan’s side of reality because this is just preparation to live the mysterious adventure of adult life, which is a place you shouldn’t enter without a master or a friend.

Problematic issues: none.

Raffaele Chiarulli is an Italian film reviewer and author.  

Raffaele Chiarulli is a graduate in the Disciplines of Art, Music and Entertainment and a PhD in Media Studies at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, where he attended the prestigious...