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Yes there is something after the credits, and it’s worth waiting for.

Monsters University may just be the best University/Sports movie of all time. Hyperbole out of the way it does many things right. I heard a great deal of groans when it was announced, despite the beloved classic Monsters Inc. was, people are weary of sequels. Disney sequels especially. The presence of the sequels included with the recent Blu-ray releases of the Disney films makes some people not want them at all. Planes comes out soon, Finding Dory is on the horizon. We may even get Wall-S, Braver, The Uncredibles, or perhaps even . . . A Bug’s Death. (Cast after A Death of a Salesman, as A Bug’s Life was cast after The Seven Samurai. Poor Flick is old and never lived up to his great potential. Flick Jr. and Biff don’t know how to help him. You get that one free Disney/Pixar if you promise not to actually make it.)

But Pixar is good at sequels. The trick to a good sequel that wasn’t planned from the beginning is to not try to replicate the first movie. To try to find a different story to tell with the same characters. Toy Story 2 could have been Buzz and Woody spending all their time coping with the new dog. Vying for Andy’s attention against a new, more compelling toy. It would have been the same story again. Instead we got a story about toys that aren’t played with, owned by a man who only see them as investments. Toy Story 3 gives us something new also, Andy moving on is an ineffable reality instead of the danger they were fighting against in the first movie. It was about coping with an unavoidable change of life. Not that they have a perfect record, Cars 2 seemed more like an extended CarsToon. (As some of the Disney “sequels” were just reprints of tv episodes.) They’ve earned my trust with sequels.

And another thing, “prequels” are usually actually just sequels. They just happen to be sequels that chronologically happened before the events of the quel. Rarely are they designed to be seen first. It angers me to find many omnibus versions of The Chronicles of Narnia putting The Magician’s Nephew before The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Sure it happened before, but it isn’t the introduction to Narnia that LWW is. It is written to an audience that has already had much adventures in Narnia and knows Aslan. The Star Wars prequels mean much less when you haven’t seen Darth Vader’s redemption.

The thing about MU, is it treats the characters seriously. Yep, it’s silly it’s filled with all the Monsters gags, as well as the University gags. But the movie doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to consequences. Most movies do. The thing with consequences is they are vital to storytelling and it’s something that has been lacking of late. The more common way of talking about consequences when it comes to story is resolution. The ring falls into Mt. Doom and the movie is over after a quick “where are they now” montage, even though that happens halfway through Return of the King. They should put MU on the syllabus in film schools right away.

MU can also be seen as a treatise on the conflict between Talent and Education. There is a need for both, although Education — or better stated, Hard Work — is the more important. But it is fascinating when someone without talent works and works. (I guess that’s why they make movies about it.)

Yes, the film is hung on a frame. It follows the script of a University/Sports movie quite well. It’s plot has been seen so many times before. Why does a creator do that? Can’t they come up with something unique and new? My incomplete answer is: the reason to hang your story on a frame/form like that is because you want to 1. comment on said frame. 2. tell a story without worrying about the plot. There is more to story than plot. In fact the only time you don’t use one of the standard plots is when you want people to comment on what a wonderful non-regular plot you have. Heller . . . cough, cough . . . 22. Nothing wrong with that, but if you have something to say about education, as MU does then it is far easier to say that with a stock frame.

I think Monsters University strikes a wonderful balance between their high concept arty style (Wall-E, Up) and their gag-filled fun style (Cars, Rat-patootie). All of their movies have heart though, that’s why even the weaker ones are loved and successes.

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