Monsters University made me happy…

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YAY!!  I will admit that I was worried.  The last two Pixar films have been mediocre–by their standards–and I was not sure how well a prequel would work.  I loved Monsters, Inc. and I am still amazed by its creativity and unique premise–could they capture the magic again?  Well, the answer is yes…yes, they could.  Monsters University is clever, original, funny and yet, with the tender heart and emotional core you’ve come to expect from Pixar.  And although I will not rank it in my top 5 Pixar films–they have met the challenge–beautifully.

Now, this story is not connected to the original–the characters have yet to evolve to that point and the events of that film are far from happening–so, the story has to stand alone and led into that time period.  This time, Mike Wazowski (my favorite) gets the character attention.  They focus on Mike and James P. Sullivan’s introduction and how their relationship evolves while attending MU–it is great knowing how it all turns out in the end–it adds something sweet to story–you know?  This premise allows for a whole new crop of characters and all sorts of college high jinks.  The parallels to our own human college experience are hilarious and the small troupe of misfits in the fraternity Oozma Kappa are all  lovable and charming.

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Billy Crystal was born to play Wazowski and he shines here–this is Mike’s story and Crystal bares the burden easily.  John Goodman is perfect as Sully (again) and I appreciated how he made Sullivan feel and sound younger.  The OK members are all perfectly cast–Sean Hayes and Dave Foley as Terri and Terry–Peter Sohn and Joel Murray as Squishy and Don–but my all out favorite is Charlie Day‘s Art!!  OMG! LOVE HIM!  Here is a random treat…

Monsters University – A Performance By “Art” – YouTube

All the voice talent is top-notch!  Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble is a bit intimidating and her character design is pretty cool.  And I love that Steve Buscemi‘s Randall is included–so great!

The intricate world of Monstropolis is expanded and they are able to capture all its charm.  I need to watch it a few more times to catch all the little, funny details in the background (loved that about Pixar!).  The character designs are amazing!  If you were impressed with Sully’s extraordinary hair–wait until you see Art’s fur!!  But, as always it is the soul that they are able to convey that continues to be their greatest achievement.

OH!  Before I forget!  Make sure to go early because the Pixar Short this time is AMAZING!!  It is The Blue Umbrella by Saschka Unseld (I am excited to see more from him) and the animation is incredible–looks so real it is mind-boggling.  And what they are able to accomplish with just some animated eyes and a mouth!  It’s a wonderful addition to their short library.  Check out this clip:  The Blue Umbrella

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Written by Monsters, Inc. scribes Daniel Gerson and Robert Baird the new narrative is consistent with these characters and they feel familiar and right.  Director Dan Scanlon did a fine job with the pacing and made smart choices with what could have been typical plot devices.  I enjoyed the unexpected directions and especially loved the ending–a great nod to accountability and real consequences–but also about having faith and working hard to achieve your dreams.  Being that this is his first big feature to direct–I am looking forward to what he does next.   And I need to mention Randy Newman‘s score, which is perfect and added to the feel of the film.

Obviously, I loved my time at Monsters University!  I laughed.  I awed.  I choked up.  I was moved.  I smiled.  Yup.  That’s a good Pixar experience–maybe not the best in their library but definitely better than the last two–which is hopeful for future projects.

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MIKE WAZOWSKI!!  😀

 

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Bye-bye 2011films! Oscar finalizes the award season…

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It is over!  The Academy Awards have come and gone for 2011.  The verdict?  Not too bad. The theme was going to the movies and I will dare say this was the best show in a LONG time.  It felt faster paced (liked the combining of categories)–fresh (loved the Cirque du Soleil piece and the pre-recorded interviews)–and funny (Billy Crystal was fantastic–and there were some funny bits due to Robert Downey, Jr and Emma Stone).  The theme was cool–especially for all of us cinephiles–I could relate to many of the comments made about film, their impact and importance in our lives. 

There were no real big surprises, except for Meryl Streep‘s win–everyone was certain it would go to Viola Davis (even Streep herself)–but no one can be upset though because Streep is amazing. Period.  And her speech was lovely. 

I was also pleased that Hugo was getting some love, but not quite enough since The Artist still managed to win the big categories–BOO!  As you know most of my favorite films of the year were not in contention tonight so I was just cheering for anything that wasn’t The Artist (on principle). 

I was happy for Rango to win in Animation.  (I still think Tintin should have been there!)  Was upset Rise of the Planet of the Apes lost the visual effects trophy–they deserved it.  Or at least Harry Potter, but no. Potter was also robbed in the Make Up category.  Original score should have been John Williams.  Everything else was alright

So, bottom line?  We need to bring Billy back every year until he dies (c’mon what else is he doing now?)–keep the brisk pace and creative additions and maybe the Awards can return to their old glory. Because to quote Billy, “Nothing helps the economy like watching millionaires give each other gold statues!”

Enjoy some video highlights!