Unpopular Opinions: Monsters University

Rule of Hollywood: Buddy Movies Are Funny.

Rule of Hollywood: Buddy Movies Are Funny.

So I’m going to admit to something right now, and everyone in the world is going to disagree with me.  And you know what?  That’s COMPLETELY OKAY.  But still, I’m working up to it; in part because it’s going to sound a lot more “definite” than it really is.  Well… I guess I’ll just spit it out there and be blunt, and then hedge my way defensively through the rest of my post.
So here it is.  Ahem.  Um…

I have misgivings about “Monsters University”.

Okay, so I said it. Now before you kill me, or think “OMG Rebecca hates a movie that hasn’t even come out yet!!” or even just, more rationally, think “Yeah, you know, I’m not worried… I think it’ll be good, because Pixar is usually good anyway”, let me say one really important thing: I think that too. I’m not worried that it won’t be good. I’m sure it’s going to be funny, emotionally resonant, and very, very, very entertaining. Oh, and awesome to look at. *G*

I’m not worried about MU, I have misgivings about it.

So. I’ll explain what I’m talking about, though it probably won’t come across all that well… See, I just… well. I read the general synopsis of the plot and while I knew it was a “prologue” taking place before Monsters, Inc, I didn’t have a lot of details. What was a disappointment to me was to find that it’s a kind of a standard story – Jocks vs. the Nerds and they discover that they get along and become best friends. Well, I guess that SPECIFIC story hasn’t been done, but let me put it another way: a college story about jocks vs. nerds teaming up; also a story about two guys who don’t like each other much at first, working together and becoming the best of friends. That second one, see, that was called “Toy Story”.

Before you say it, I know. I know already. I know that I’m reacting to a theme of what will be a quite different movie. I know that there are only so many ideas and themes out there, and if we never reused any we’d never have anything new, b/c there just aren’t many original ideas left. I know that they can take a theme or idea and reshape it. It’s more sort of the fact that Pixar has done this idea/theme before. More than once actually, but it’s most closely related to Toy Story; and one of the things that appealed to me about Monsters, Inc was that we came into it with this buddy story between Mike and Sulley, who despite their differences are a great team and close friends. I guess the only way to show the beginning of that friendship and make it interesting is by having them NOT get along at first, otherwise it’s just “two guys who meet in school and hang out and like each other” which isn’t a whole lot of movie.

But still I can’t get past this. All Pixar movies have a theme to them beneath the plot, and this theme is such an echo of their first theme. Protagonist who tries hard and knows his stuff gets upstaged by cool popular guy and hijinks ensue until they are forced to work together and come to understand how alike they are. …Wheee. That’s different from the mismatched comedy duo of Dory and Marlin, or … uh… any of the others…? 😉

But in spite of that misgiving feeling nagging at the back of my skull, I still know that the writing will be great, the direction will be excellent, and a lot of people will be very, very happy with this movie. Probably including me. I’m not COMPLAINING, I’m just… vocalizing. 🙂

I will admit that this image cracks me up.

I will admit that this image cracks me up.

OH! Okay, one thing I am complaining about. You know how in the first movie their names are all just Regular Ol’ Joe names? Bill, Celia, Randall, Mr. Waternuss, James P. Sullivan and Michael Wazowski? I’m probably jumping the gun but the name “Dean Hardscrabble” gets under my skin for exactly this reason. The fact that they didn’t get “cute” and give everyone in MI a “Monster-Pun” name is one of the things I really LIKE about it. Lots of visual gags but normal, every-joe names. Even Waternuss is fancy but not “cute”; it shows that he’s an upperclass guy, white collar instead of blue collar. It contrasts against Sullivan and Wazowski, but it’s not actually a pun. Now, Dean Hardscrabble… that’s not really a Monstery pun but it is still “cute”. I think it’s a reference to college farce movies, rather than an effort to be monstery, but it still kind of pokes under my skin and wiggles around there uncomfortably. So I guess that’s a complaint, but I will happily admit that – hey! – I haven’t seen the movie and this assumption of mine might be REALLY, REALLY WRONG! I’ll take that name stuff back happily if that’s the case, and there’s a good chance it is. 🙂

As for the “frenemies” aspect, well… I doubt I’m wrong on that. I also doubt anyone, including me, is going to mind because I don’t think it means they can’t do a good movie. It’ll probably be a somewhat fresh take. But it remains to be seen how closely it will remind me of Woody and Buzz… Here’s hoping not at all once I’m immersed in the film’s reality. 🙂 Here’s to Pixar! I haven’t loved every one of your movies but many of the ones I have SEEN have been among my faves. 😀

To appease you, here are the trailers for the movie that have been released so far!  Enjoy! 😀

***All of the above is my opinion only, and is not meant to represent anyone else’s views, nor is it meant to try to invalidate anyone else’s opinion. Thanks!

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Top 5: Pixar Movies

Got a favourite Pixar film? Nearly everyone has at least one. I don’t know anyone who says “I don’t have a favourite Pixar film ’cause I hate all that junk.” I might know some people who may say they don’t have a favourite because they like them all, but most people have at least some they like more than others.

My Triumphant Return To the Top Five today is not here to tell you which Pixar movies are no good, though. Unless you consider a lack of inclusion in this list to mean that they are no good, which you shouldn’t; because there are 13 Pixar features released as of today, and this list can only take five, meaning that by default 8 cannot be listed. However, I am going to rank the little buggers and prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that there can be no argument: my top 5 should be your top 5.

(Disclaimer: doubts may in fact be shadowed. In reality this is my opinion, which can and will vary from yours, and I’m writing like this for entertainment value and also because I had some wine with dinner and I’m a lightweight. SO.)

Honourable Mention: “Up” from 2009. WHY, I can hear you wailing, WHY IS THIS ONLY AN HONOURABLE MENTION?! Do you have no HEART? Okay, the fact is, I haven’t seen this one. Reason being that I have put it off due to my full awareness that the opening can very possibly destroy my soul. 🙂 No, but in all seriousness, Pixar is fully capable of reaching me on an emotional level that many movies can’t reach, and I know that I need to be ready for the beginning of “Up”. So I’ve put it off. To be completely fair to it, I think I would have it on my Top 5 if I had seen it, based on everything I have heard. So it’s Honourable Mentioned. Yeah, I know that this technically makes the list a Top Six but just… shut up. 😛

#5: Monsters, Inc., 2001.

image (c) Disney.com

image (c) Disney/Pixar, from Disney.com

I find this movie to be utterly adorable, and not only for the utterly adorable little girl. No, it’s actually because of the design and the sheer silliness of the Monstropolis world. You know how there are various scenes that exist only to show the day-to-day life of weird-looking, but ultimately harmless and even Just Like Us monsters? Like during Mike and Sully’s walk to work in the morning? That is the sort of thing that appeals to me. A million and one background gags. However, MI also has a great heart to it, and the ending – the VERY ending – always makes me tear up a little. Somehow I got it into my head that years and years have passed for Boo and when Sully comes out she’s not a little girl anymore, but it doesn’t matter for either of them. I’m not sure where that idea came from, especially since her voice sounds the same, but I’ve always felt it every time I watch. Add to that some great voice work – this is one of my favourite Billy Crystal roles – and animation that really shines, and this is a great movie.

#4: WALL-E, 2008.

Image (c) Pixar.

Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from pixartimes.com

I think the most amazing thing about this movie is that they sustain an entire, what? 30 minutes? 45? At the start with NO DIALOGUE. I might be overexaggerating on that because I didn’t time it, but regardless, it’s impressive no matter how long it’s for. The entire story and everything in it comes across visually and you get a strong sense of the characterization – of a ROBOT who has developed a personality – anyway. And you can follow the story. It’s brilliant storytelling and the use of WALL-E the cutie makes you instantly empathize. With a ROBOT. Additionally, I ended up loving the humans, especially the Captain, with his complete lack of realizing that he’s useless. And the way that doesn’t matter to him once he does realize it. Oh, and plus, Fred Willard. That’s all I need to say.

#3: Toy Story 2 & 3.

Image (c) Dixney/Pixar, from storylineblog.com

Image (c) Dixney/Pixar, from storylineblog.com

It’s a tie so I count them both together. Yes, I like Toy Story, it started the whole thing after all! But I think TS2 is the stronger movie for some reason. Plus it brings in Jessie, a character I like in spite of myself. I know some people find her annoying and I get why. I think she’s great. 😀 But it’s Jessie in the second movie who really moves me, and the theme they introduce with her – kids outgrowing their toys and the toys having a hard time dealing with the rejection – is the central theme of TS3. (You could argue that it’s the theme in TS1, as well, but I feel it’s approached differently in that one but in largely the same way in 2 and 3.) I also just feel like the writing is top notch in these, especially 2.

#2: The Incredibles, 2004.

They say that Frozone is a bad mother- *shut your mouth!* But I'm talking 'bout Frozone!  *We can dig it.*  Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

They say that Frozone is a bad mother- *shut your mouth!* But I’m talking ’bout Frozone! *We can dig it.* Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

This movie, honestly, this movie needs more love. It’s got some amazing jokes but even more its characters are SO strong. This is a family that feels like a family, and in particular the adults are so relatable. Elastigirl is my hero on many levels. The fact that the movie is largely about having powers and yet feeling powerless is a nice touch. I feel like, out of all of Pixar’s movies, this one may be the most adult of any of them. It definitely seems to be the one that is most relatable TO adults, and in my eyes it’s about ADULTHOOD in a way that the other films are not. Their other movies are about emotional themes, and this one honestly seems to be about growing up, about a midlife crisis. I truly feel like it’s handled very well.  Also I really can’t go an entire paragraph without mentioning Frozone. YEAH Frozone. 😀

#1: Finding Nemo, 2003.

Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

As I get older and understand myself more, I realize more and more that this is my favourite Pixar movie. It has layers. Its writing is terrific, to start with, but the acting is as well. From the first time I saw it, I cried in no fewer than six different scenes – sometimes tears of happiness and others, tears of genuine sadness. The funny thing is that as I’ve rewatched it, I still cry in the same spots every time. Something about this movie just resonates with me emotionally. It’s something to do with the parental/child relationship, but there’s more to it, there’s also the lopsided friendship between Marlin and Dory, the Tank group, and Marlin’s loss and how it defines him, as well as how he overcomes that in the end. I think what endeared this film to me so much, in the end, was my realization that – intentionally or not – it is a beautiful allegory for depression. “Just Keep Swimming” indeed. That is advice to live by.

And yes, I am looking forward to the sequel. 🙂