July 15, 2013

Monsters University (2013)

Billy Crystal, John Goodman




It's a fine line between making a movie funny and interesting enough that an adult can sit through it while still maintaining a clean sense of humor and teaching good values to kids. TV shows illustrate this perfectly: on one side, there are the sassy, back-talking, scheming kid shows that make you wonder if the show is even for kids at all. Take SpongeBob Square Pants. I mean, the entire premise is about a stoned sponge! How, exactly does that qualify as a kid's show? On the flip side, there are shows that do nothing but preach values and learning to the point where they are unwatchable by anyone with a mental maturity beyond the age of five. Think, Care Bears or a number of other shows I've never bothered to pay attention to but I'm sure exist.

What sets most Disney movies apart is its ideal combination of child humor and adult humor. I recently read a Slate article on the fact that kids and adults often don't like the same movies. This is obvious, and probably didn't need a whole article written on the subject, but it does illustrate the fact that many movies fail to achieve this balance. Case in point: CarsCars is probably the worst Disney movie ever made (and yes, that includes both Aristocats and Pocahontas). And yet... a sequel was made. And an entire theme park at Disneyland. And a new Disney movie called Planes that looks exactly like Cars, but features airplanes instead (p.s. kudos on the imaginative title). It's inexplicable.

Monsters University straddles this child/adult line well. It's cute and includes cheesy jokes that kids will understand, wrapped into a sports-type plot that anyone could follow. But it also smacks of Old School with its loser fraternity of outcasts and "mature students" which appeals to adults. And frankly, anything that can remind me to say, "You're my boy, Blue!" is a winner in my book. Of course, this movie is rated G, so the streaking, drinking and KY jelly wrestling all take place off screen. JK It's still a kid's movie, after all.

Unfortunately, my favorite part of the movie is its ending, but I can't write about it! It made me desperately want to break my rule of not spoiling movie endings so I could talk about it, but alas, I have principles. Sigh.

Final word: It's cute, but not amazingly creative, especially compared to the original.

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