‘Monsters University’ comes close to the charm of its predecessor

‘Monsters University’ is Rated G, 110 min. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2013.

“Monsters University” – the charming prequel to Disney-Pixar’s “Monster’s Inc.” – presents the first meeting of scare-team Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman), who start college as rivals. Mike is the hard-working student and Sully is the laidback natural, but events put them in a new situation in which they must rely on each other and a misfit fraternity to win the “Scare Games” and secure their place on campus.

Complimenting the funny and thoughtful story is an all-star vocal cast featuring Steve Buscemi (reprising his role as Randall), Helen Mirren as a tough dean, and a dozen others you may suddenly recognize as the credits roll.

Even if this lacks the sweetness of the first film, it still comes close to magic. Luckily, there is far more going on here than cheap gags. The plot may actually be a bit too long and complex for young viewers to follow, and it takes some surprising turns. But by offering some tough lessons and an ultimately uplifting experience, “Monsters University” will happily be added to the list of Pixar films families will watch again and again, right beside “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.”

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