The Blue Umbrella is a wonderful, yet simple, short about two umbrellas who fall in love, get separated and then are reunited. Featuring personified objects of a rainy city, there is so much character and charm to this short and it is quickly becoming one of my favorites of all the Pixar shorts.
Monsters University, released in 2013, continued the trend of Pixar films that were considered less than stellar, following Cars 2 and Brave. These three films were not as well received by audiences as other Pixar movies that had come before. That is not to say that they are not worthwhile, however, as all three have their advantages. I can say, though, when I first saw Monsters University in theatres, I was disappointed. I was 16 years old and found it bland, unmemorable, and lacking the charm I so appreciated from Monsters, Inc. In 2019, however, I am in a very different place in my life. As a college student, I greatly appreciate and thoroughly enjoy Monsters University.
This film is significant as it was Pixar’s first, and so far only, prequel. Featuring the characters that we know from Monsters, Inc., we get to go back and see them in college learning how to be the best scarers in the business. One of the common pitfalls to prequels is that by learning some of the backstory, it takes away some of the tension and magic because we already know what is going to happen. That is present a little here, but largely is not a problem and Monsters University can be enjoyed by those who have or have not seen Monsters, Inc.
Something I love about Monsters University is its honesty. The life of a college student is hard, and this film doesn’t shy away from the fact that you can do your best, and sometimes, others still may view you as not good enough. This difficult reality is a theme throughout the film in the form of Mike Wazowski. This is his story and we as viewers can connect with him better than any other character. However, the other character that is most excellently used is Dean Hardscrabble, voiced to perfection by Helen Mirren. She also is a realistic character, a no-nonsense dean of a school who doesn’t know what it feels like to be proven wrong. Her character arc is a great one, and the film would be much less interesting without her inclusion.
As with many other Pixar films, I feel that this works better for me as an adult than as a kid. However, whether an adult or kid, Monsters University is a valuable watch and one that I recommend.
To conclude this week, we watched Party Central. Originally shown in theaters alongside Muppets Most Wanted, Party Central focuses on one of the sillier aspects of Monsters University, which is Oozma Kappa and their (lack of) parties. This short is funny, though nothing too special. Recommended primarily for huge fans of the film.
Next week, we’ll be watching two Toy Story television specials, Toy Story of Terror and Toy Story That Time Forgot.