3D Blu-ray Review “Monsters University”

Actors: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Charlie Day, Sean P. Hayes, Dave Foley, Nathan Fillion,Aubrey Plaza.
Directors: Dan Scanlon
Number of discs: 4
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 29, 2013
Run Time: 104 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
3D: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

If you have asked me back in May 2011, I would have said that Pixar could do no wrong. Since then they have released “Cars 2” (which isn’t as bad as people say), “Brave” and now “Monsters University”. “Monsters Inc.” is one of Pixar’s greatest films and introduced us to our favorite characters Mike and Sully. So when I heard that they were making a sequel, I am sure everyone was excited to get to see the boys back in action again with “Monsters University”. I enjoyed the film since I love these characters but it feels like it is missing the charm of the first one and doesn’t deliver anything special. Pixar is taking 2014 off for the first time and not releasing a new film till 2015. Hopefully they are looking to amp it up with “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur”.

Returning for the prequel includes the voices of Billy Crystal (voice of Mike), John Goodman (voice of Sulley) and Steve Buscemi (voice of Randy Boggs). Joining the cast includes great talent including Helen Mirren (voice of Dean Hardscrabble), Nathan Fillion (voice of Johnny Worthington), Alfred Molina (voice of Professor Knight), Joel Murray (voice of Don Carlton), Charlie Day (voice of Art), Sean P. Hayes (voice of Terri Perry), Dave Foley (voice of Terry Perry), John Krasinski (voice of Frank McCay) and Aubrey Plaza (voice of Claire Wheeler). Overall the voice cast is impressive and easily the best part of the film.

Official Premise: Disney Pixar proudly presents the hilarious story of how two mismatched monsters met and became lifelong friends in a movie screaming with laughter and oozing with heart. Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) was a little monster, he’s dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. With their dreams temporarily dashed, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right.

Monsters University will be available for purchase as a 4-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack including Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. I am happy that Disney has gotten on board now with Ultraviolet digital copies. In terms of deliver Disney delivered a fantastic 1080p transfer presentation. The colors are crisp and overall look really great. The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track also sounds quite stunning and really sounds great. I am a huge fan of 3D usually and I even enjoyed “Monsters Inc.” in the third dimension, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with the 3D on “Monsters University”. There was some added depth but nothing that really scream “Damn this film should be in 3D”. I have a feeling that if my daughter ever wants to watch this film again, it will definitely be in 2D.

In terms of special features, they are very impressive for sure despite my feelings on the film. “Campus Life” is a chat with the production crew at Pixar. “Story School” is a documentary takes us through the production and the new story of Mike and Sulley. “Scare Games” talks about the creation of the film’s competitions. “Welcome to MU” talks us into the world that was created for the film. “Music Appreciation” takes us through Randy Newman’s score (which I really was’t thrilled with). “Scare Tactics” talks about bringing the characters to life. “Color and Light” focuses on setting the tone for the film. “Paths to Pixar – MU Edition” features the crew sharing their own back stories. There are four deleted scenes with an introduction from director Dan Scanlon.

Since I didn’t see this film in theaters, I was very curious about seeing Pixar’s latest show “The Blue Umbrella”. When it comes to shorts, they always deliver but my favorite short from Disney has to be “Paperman”, which debuted in front of “Wreck-It Ralph”. “The Blue Umbrella” follows two umbrellas—one blue, one not—fall that fall eternally in love. It is cute and clever but not one of my favorites. Some additional bonus features include an audio commentary track, some promo materials from the college and theatrical campaigns, a “Flythrough” for the sets and an art gallery.

Film Review “Monsters University”

Starring the voices of: Billy Crystal, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi
Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Rated: G
Running time: 1 hr 50 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

If you’re a kid over ten you’re certainly familiar with the story of “Monster’s Inc.” Best friends Mike Wazowski (Crystal) and James “Sulley” Sullivan (Goodman) work together to scare human children while they sleep, harvesting their screams to power their home city of Monstropolis. But did you know that, though they are cousins, Mike and Sulley were anything but friends when they were younger. This secret, and others, are revealed when the boys become college men at Monster’s University.

Directed by Dan Scanlon, whose PIXAR association includes stints working on “Cars,” “Brave” and the short film “Mater and the Ghostlights,” “Monster’s University” is a worthy prequel to what is arguably one of PIXAR’s greatest achievements. The story follows Mike and Sulley as they take different paths to what they hope is the same ending. Both want to be “scarers” and Sulley has a leg up because his father was renowned in the field. Big and hairy, Sulley seems to have his future set for him. Smooth and round, not to mention short, Mike knows he has his work cut out for him. While Sulley is recruited by the school’s top fraternities Mike finds himself in the freshmen dorm, rooming with another potential student, one Randy Boggs (Buscemi). After some preliminary scare classes Randy finds himself in a popular fraternity while Mike is left to join the only house that will have him: Oozema Kappa. Here he learns that not every dream has to come true in order to reach your goals.

What made “Monster’s Inc” such a success was the true and genuine bond between Mike and Sulley. As voiced by Crystal and Goodman they were best friends that you know would remain that way forever. Knowing what the future holds for both of them does not distract from the story here. The film lovingly parodies such popular college comedies as “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” Crystal and Goodman lead a great vocal cast which includes returning “Monster’s Inc” alum Steve Buscemi. They are joined by Helen Mirren, Sean Hayes, Alfred Molina and Joel Murray. The script, co-written by Scanlon, Daniel Gerson and Robert Baird, is clever without being cute, which is an incredible achievement for a G rated film. And, as always, the visuals are outstanding.

And while I’m speaking of visuals, make sure you get to the theatre early so you can catch an amazing short film called “The Blue Umbrella.”

Complimentary Passes to an Orlando, FL 3D Screening of Disney*Pixar’s “Monsters University” [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

©2013 DISNEY/PIXAR

In Disney Digital 3D™ And RealD 3D June 21

If you would like to enter for a chance to win tickets to the following advance 3D screening below, please leave a comment below with who is your favorite character: Mike or Sulley? Tickets are limited and will be chosen on a RANDOM BASIS on Friday June 15th. The winners will be will notified then via email. Good luck and hope to see if you at the screening!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Only one entry per person/per household. Must be 13 years or older to enter to win. Limit one-admit two pass per person. Passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Supplies limited. Employees of all promotional partner and their agencies are not eligible.

Theater: AMC Downtown Disney
Date: Monday, June 17th, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM
Format: 3D

Disney.com/MonstersU
Facebook.com/PixarMonstersUniversity
Twitter.com/DisneyPixar

Mike Wazowski’s (voice of Billy Crystal) lifelong dreams of becoming a scarer are derailed during his first semester at Monsters University when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), and their out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program.

Book Review “The Art of Monsters University”

Author: Karen Palik
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Book Length: 172 pages
Release Date: June 1, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When it’s comes to “Monsters Inc.”, it stole our hearts and of course laughs (spoilers alert, haha). Over the last decade or so the film continues to entertain and stands as one of Pixar’s most impressive films and we have been waiting to see more adventures with Mike and Sulley. Twelve years later, we are getting a prequel to the animated hit titled “Monsters University”, which follows the duo in school before they were on the scare floor. This book is being released by Chronicle Books, who handles most of the art of books for Disney and Pixar. They were also the publisher behind the art of for “Monsters Inc”. If you were a fan of that book, this is another gem from Chronicle. If you have never seen that book, this one really takes you into this film’s universe and makes you want to rush out and see this new film immediately.

The layout of the book is great and really has that college campus feel. I enjoyed the fact that you also get to see aspects of “Monsters Inc.” that were not shown in the first film. There is tons of great concept art, which I am a big sucker for. All the images are super crisp and high quality. Additionally there are various character profiles, sculptures, storyboards and more. Even though our lovable Mike and Sully are still the main characters, there are tons of new faces and they get some time to shine in this book as well. When I see a movie, I like to have some surprises so I usually won’t go too deep before seeing it but this was a nice introduction to get us ready to meet them. “The Art of Monsters University” also includes some very informative behind-the-scenes interviews with the film’s artists. I like that they get to step away from the drawing board and speak out.

The book is authored by Karen Paik, who works in the development department at Pixar. She has worked on various projects including “Ratatouille”, “Up”, and of course “Monsters University”. If you are questions her work as an author she also authored the wonderful companion book “The Art of Ratatouille”, as well as “To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios”. So she not only brings her inside view from working at Pixar. She was also involved with this film hands on and allows us to get that inside view. There is also a great preface from John Lasseter, the head honcho for Disney*Pixar films, along with Pete Doctor, the director of “Monsters, Inc.”, “Up” and writer of “Monsters University”. The foreword is by Dan Scanlon, the director of Monsters University, also a great ending to a great book. Don’t miss this!

Joel Murray talks about working with Bobcat Goldthwait on "God Bless America" and Disney/Pixar’s "Monsters University"

Joel Murray is the youngest in his family of actors including Bill Murray and Brian-Doyle Murray. He is the star of Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest film “God Bless America” and he is voicing the character Don Carlson in Disney/Pixar’s upcoming “Monsters University”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Joel about growing up in the business and his work on the films above.

Mike Gencarelli: What did you think about “God Bless America” upon your first reading?
Joel Murray: You heard the story from Bobcat (Goldthwait), right? He was having back surgery, so I brought him over dinner and the first three seasons of “Mad Men”. Middle way through season two his wife said “You know, Joel could play Frank”. So he sent me the script but didn’t say a part or anything. I read it and told him it was great and I really liked it. I told him that I liked what he has to say and that it was time for a film like this. Then I asked him, “Who are you thinking about, you want me for the guy in the office?” He said “No Frank…the Guy!” I jumped at the thought of having the lead role in the movie, which doesn’t happen too often. Actually it has just happened once, really [laughs]. My first thought was hell ya! But then I had a couple of moments thinking that there could be some repercussions from this. I agree with about 95% about what he says in the movie. So I just thought “Why not?” My only fear was that seven Westboro Baptists would come visit me at my house. [laughs] But other than that I wasn’t too worried. What I love about his work is that all of his movies having something to say. So many comedies today are just like an extended shit joke.

MG: You’ve worked with Bobcat Goldthwait going back to “Shakes the Clown”; how was it with him behind the director’s chair again?
JM: When I worked with him on “Shakes”, it was his first movie and he was in clown makeup the whole time. You didn’t really think about him as an auteur, he was playing a drunken clown running around in make-up. On this film though, I was able to work hand-and-hand with him the whole time. I directed some stuff in the past and he was open to anything that I had to say and add. It was a fun relationship. It is awkward having your buddy give you a role that you didn’t audition for.  He didn’t give me a lot of notes or anything. All I kept getting from him was “Yeah, you really got this guy down!”

MG: How did you prepare for a character like Frank?
JM: I thought Bob has written it for himself. So I was kind of playing Bob in a way [laughs] but with his normal voice. I had a friend shoot himself in the mouth about 6-8 months before this came up. So when we started shooting, a couple of the scenes we did first was me with a gun in my mouth. That really takes you to a real interesting spot as an actor…a real depressing spot for that matter. So starting from there, I found a dark place to begin with and had a gradual upswing from there. His is never really that happy or excited though in the film. But starting from the darker corner was a good way to go as an actor.

MG: Was it challenging to blend the satirical comedy with the violent action?
JM: How do you blend it? Well, anyone that takes the violence in this film too seriously doesn’t get it. They also may be part of the problem that we are trying to kill. When you have a car montage in the middle of the film dancing around on the map of America, you know it is not taking itself that seriously. To do some serious acting on this, the comedy of it brought something to it. I grew up doing comedy and I have been fortunate enough to get into some serious roles as well in “Mad Men” and “Shameless”. So I’ve got to do some straight acting. It has been interesting to try and I have also learned a lot from my peers and my brothers. I watched my brother Billy (Murray) in “Broken Flowers” and I thought to myself “He’s seeing if he can do absolutely nothing and if it would work” [laughs]. Also in “Lost in Translation”, he was so introspective. So I just didn’t want to overplay it and keep it kind of close. I have a very expressive face, so I don’t need to be too over the top. But Bob was consistently giving me the thumbs up. So I guess it worked.

MG:  Speaking of your family, how was it growing up as the youngest in a family of actors? Do you feel that comedy comes easy?
JM: It was natural at home. Everyone was funny around the dining room table and that is where some of the comedy started in our house. You learn from them. I had some of the funniest people in America in my room growing up. There was also a high standard with them. I did plays throughout high school and college and when I got into improv, it wasn’t that easy but I had my background to draw from. I remember one of the first times my brother Billy came to see me at the Improv Olympic. I remember riding home with him and it was one heck of a quiet car ride, like I just struck out to win the World Series [laughs]. So they are a tough group to impress but we all created our own funny. There is stuff you saw on “Saturday Night Live” and from movies where you think that you grew up with that. I had more noogies on my head then anybody being the youngest [laughs].

MG:  Lastly, tell us about your role Don Carlson in “Monsters University”?
JM: The first trailers didn’t really show any new characters. In the new trailers, I am the guy with the mustache in the cloak that is evoking the initiation rites. Don Carlson is a student in his 40’s that has been laid off and decided to go back to college and learn the computers. So he is in this lame frat with the other guys but he is 20 years older than them all. He was a fun character. He is a little bit Minnesota-ent and sounds a little bit like my brother Brian-Doyle Murray but not exactly, I swear [laughs]. I didn’t go there!

 

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