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Monster Mania: Disney’s “Monsters University” offers a cartoony campus and animated academics. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 07:55

 


Simple Picture Slideshow:
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Perfectly timed to coincide with summer vacation—where families with kids can go out more frequently and stay up later—comes Disney/Pixar’s newest comedy installment, “Monsters University.” Like George Lucas and his “Star Wars” franchise, which ran its course and then started to travel into prequel territory, “Monsters University,” or “MU,” traces the early days of Sulley and Mike Wazowski before they became laborers at the Monsters, Inc., scream-inducing factory.

In this new edition, which focuses on their collegiate experience, Mike and Sulley are on campus, surrounded by a host of peculiar and quirky cohorts. The fellow students literally come in every shape, size, and color that is imaginable. (And many that are beyond a layperson’s ability to muse.) That’s what is so compelling about the Monsters experience. Most of us grown-ups don’t think in terms of multi-eyed wishbones or single-eyed orbs. We deal with reality and everyday appearances. It’s the kids in our lives who doodle goofy golf balls with dangling arms and legs, or gigantic half-men/half-gorillas with rainbow fur and Billy goat horns. Yet, the artists at Pixar are able to tap into that juvenile sense of off-the-grid anatomy and behaviors and then imbue them with touching, sympathetic personalities. If “Monsters, Inc.” is the template, then the student body of this new outing will be lovable, vulnerable goofballs. Think “Animal House” without the raunch, but with more heart.

Accompanying the film’s debut are a fraternity and sorority rows’ worth of plush companions. Pledges of all stripes and polka dots are on hand for collecting. Spotted at Disney Stores and at Toys R Us, there are full-size figures, mini beanbags, figurines, pins, T-shirts, and dolls.

Since life on a college campus is pretty insane—even when we’re discussing real-live sons and daughters—the MU cast of coeds is filled with amazingly bizarre underclassmen and women. Pledging a “house” is part of the MU experience, and the screenplay writers have given us a haunted-house array of possibilities. There are the EEK pledges; the HSS followers (think of the sound “hiss”); the RnR (which translates as roar in English). The houses are places for the monsters to flex their muscles and find their inner terror.

The number of plush pals that have been released this month to celebrate the franchise is pretty staggering. As I post this blog, the Disney Store (online, and perhaps in malls as well) are cutting the prices to $6 for many of these guys and gals. It’s an enticing way to get these recruits into your own homes and play tents, or dorm rooms for the fall. (http://www.disneystore.com/mn/1020501/?RMID=20130617_MonstersUMBBP&RRID=13299262&CMP=EMC-eml)

As I am bidding good-bye to a very sweet young family friend, who is heading away to college in September, and another very nice young lady who is poised to start her high-school career, I feel a bit monstrous these days. I am happy for all of their opportunities and the exciting challenges that will befall them. However, I am sad to see the young girls I know on the brink of becoming adults.

When a high-school, and certainly a college, label is slapped on your ID, behaviors and attitudes start to change. So, farewell, kids everywhere, who are able to draw and imagine a multi-limbed tap dancer or a four-headed soccer jock. While you toil to fit in and succeed in your new, more adult campus settings, don’t lose touch with your inner children. It’s your secret “kid” self who is going to let you enjoy the monstrous good times that await you.