Focus film reviewer, Patty Papageorgiou-Axford reviews this latest offering from Disney Pixar
Little Mike Wazowski is the kid in the shadows. The kid no one picks for their team and who always gets stuck with the teacher when everyone “buddies up” on trips. However little Mike Wazowski is a dreamer. And a school visit to the great corporation of Monsters Incorporated, gives Mike a glimpse of a world he knows in his heart he is destined for. Mike is going to grow up to be a Scarer.
Cue several years later when Mike steps off the bus at Monsters University, and armed with enthusiasm, textbooks and techniques plunges headfirst into pursuing his lifelong dream.
But all is not plain sailing for Mike. Dean Hardscrabble of the Scare Faculty is a renown and respected record braking scarer and a ruthless, unforgiving professor. Only the best of the best make it through her Scare Programme and she spells it out plain and clear to Mike. Try as he may, he simply isn’t a scary monster. Rubbing salt in his wounds is the presence of James Sullivan, of the long line of Sullivan Scarers. James, “Sully”, achieves results effortlessly, a natural scarer riding on the success of previous generations. Mike has found his nemesis.
Determined to prove everyone wrong, he joins a fraternity of misfits, the Oozma Kappas, and enters the unlikely team into the annual Scare Games in order to win a place on the Scare Programme. When circumstances land Sully in the Oozma Kappas’ house, the two monsters have to put their rivalry aside and learn how to work together and as a team.
From the day Pixar brought Toy Story to the screen, they have not ceased to create films that move children and adults alike. The story carefully thought out, the animation faultless as usual, colourful and vibrant as well as comical and poignant in the right places. The youthfulness of the characters is evident – this is after all set quite a few years before we first saw them in Monsters Inc – in their looks and their demeanour. But the real beauty of Pixar’s films is always the story. You think you know what’s coming, but there is more than one surprise along the way. Defying expectation, our heroes do not “win the day” in the conventional sense. We all know already that Mike does not become a scarer (in Monsters Inc he is the pencil pusher, Sully’s coach and partner). During the Scare Games Mike comes to terms with the bitter truth that he does not have what it takes to be a Scarer. Likewise, Sully discovers that his presence alone is only worth half a job and he cannot carry on piggybacking on his family’s reputation. But in each other, they find the strengths they lack and the support they need.
Beautifully, the film delivers a positive message out of a harsh reality many of us may well have experienced. Follow your dream, yes, but feel no shame or disappointment if you don’t achieve it. Because in that journey, you will find hidden strengths, your true calling and friendships that will carry you through life. A message that not only validates our own life experiences, but one I for certain would like my own children to learn.