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'Monsters University' (Blu-ray + DVD Combo)
(Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, et al / Blu ray+DVD / G / 2013 / Walt Disney Studios)

Overview: 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!

Blu ray+DVD Verdict: Mike and Sully are back in 'Monsters University,' prequel to the Oscar-nominated original 'Monsters Inc.' Indeed, newcomers can enjoy 'Monsters University' as a stand-alone film, an engaging and funny comedy-drama about friendship, but most viewers would watch the new film in order to meet the two beloved green-colored monsters in their younger days.

In 'MU,' because of their blunders during the test, Mike and Sully, two opposites fiercely competing each other, are both kicked out of Monsters University's Scaring Program. To re-enter the school's most prestigious program, Mike and Sully join "Scare Games" with the school's misfit monsters.

And so, 'MU' is for the most part a formulaic but entertaining college comedy. As a comedy the film generally keeps a good pace with a good amount of effective visual jokes, while struggling to deal with one story element: that is, Mike is not very scary. Perhaps because of this, 'MU' wraps up in an unusual way.

But please don't assume that I believe 'Monsters University' isn't a great film. I mean, sure its boring in certain places - unless you're a kid, of course - but it just doesn't engage adults in anywhere near the same way most other Pixar movies do. Nor does it incorporate a unique perspective/conceit that defines many Pixar movies. Whether it is living toys, silent robots in love, or Monsters who are afraid of children, Pixar has made a living making films the audience has not likely seen before.

Here the opposite is true. Since there is no longer any novelty in discovering a world where monsters are afraid of children, this film simply retraces ground that has been covered dozens of times previously, from at least Animal House though certainly earlier. Sully and Mike are an odd couple. They are different and don't like each other. They are confronted with bullies. They see the benefit of working together and find friendship.

None of that is the point though. Monsters University is a bright, well crafted film. It is certainly family friendly and all of the main characters are eminently likable. If you have children from 3-9 they will absolutely love it, and most children within a few years of 9 will likely love it as well. And if you find that, as you get older w/children, you can forgive Pixar for not meeting its earlier, nearly unreachable levels of excellence, you might also see a film that does a job fully- entertaining children, even though we might long for more. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• Campus Life – What’s it like being on a production crew at Pixar? Get a look at a day in the life of the “Monsters University” crew through their own eyes.
• Story School – This documentary examines the challenges of creating a prequel as well as themes that run through the story, and the change in focus from Sulley to Mike.
• Scare Games – At Pixar, we play hard while we work. The same people who keep the film production moving – producers, managers, coordinators and artists – are also the ones who bring spirit and excitement to some of our extracurricular activities.
• Welcome to MU – Sets aren’t just buildings, they are the worlds our characters live in and explore. This look at the Monsters University campus and its development is told from the perspective of the artists who created each piece of the campus from the architecture to the ivy leaves.
• Music Appreciation – Randy Newman’s scores are a mainstay of Pixar films, and this documentary will give you a privileged look at his creative process. We follow the “Monsters University” scoring process from spotting to writing and on to the scoring session. Including special college-themed recording sessions.
• Scare Tactics – Animators are actors who digitally bring the characters to life. In this look at how the MU animation team worked, you’ll see their process of how they channeled their own monster-selves and created moments on screen that were really funny, really scary and also really serious, sometimes all at the same time.
• Color and Light – How can a single painting set the tone for an entire scene? We’ll look at the creation of the colorscripts and how they were realized technically in the final film. Along with the process, this piece explores the many layers of technical innovation required to produce such a naturalistic feel.
• Paths to Pixar – MU Edition – When one door closes, sometimes another door opens – one with an even more exciting opportunity behind it. Members of the MU crew tell their own compelling backstories and share the challenges they overcame along their paths to Pixar.5% of which actually end up in the movie.
• Furry Monsters: A Technical Retrospective – Explore the difficulties in creating characters that are 20 years younger with tools that are 10 years more advanced in this contrasting look at the differing technical challenges that arose when making “Monsters, Inc.,” and “Monsters University.”
• Deleted Scenes – Four separate scenes – “Rivalry,” “Recon,” “Movie Night,” and “Drama Class” – are highlighted with an introduction from director Dan Scanlon.
• “The Blue Umbrella” – This animated short film from Pixar Animation Studios, directed by Saschka Unseld and produced by Marc Greenberg, played in theaters in front of “Monsters University.” “The Blue Umbrella” tells the story of an evening commute in which the rain starts to fall and the city comes alive to the sound of dripping rain pipes, whistling awnings and gurgling gutters. And in the midst, two umbrellas — one blue, one not — fall eternally in love.
• Additional Bonus Features – Audio Commentary, Promo Picks, College Campaign, Theatrical Campaign, Set Flythroughs, Art Gallery and more!

Blue Umbrella Opening Clip - Monsters University Short on Disney Video