I must give credit to Disney/Pixar for being able to re-hash the classic college comedy and bring it all together for the younglings. Monsters University is just that, your 80s styles Revenge of the Nerds type college comedy toned down to the level that would be appropriate for the family and especially children. Unfortunately in doing so it lingers in-between an age-group that is neither here nor there.
Take my case wherein I went to watch the film with my almost 6-year-old daughter. While she has the concept of a school, but college life is so far away, especially knowledge about American college life with its frat houses and the like, that most of the elements of the film didn’t have an impact on her. Yes, there is some humour, and some funny moments consisting of physical comedy, but overall the film simply seems dull. For me on the other hand, because this is a children’s animation, the “good” parts about college life are missing, and whatever humour there is, seems very basic and if you’ve seen enough college based comedies growing up as I have, you pretty much know what is going to happen.
Another aspect about Monsters University that bothered me was that it tries too hard to link itself with its predecessor. So, as a result we have explanations about not only why and how Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) became friends, but every other small relationship is also covered, at times almost forcefully. As a result of that, a number of jokes are also lost on people who might be watching the film without having seen Monsters Inc. For those who have seen the previous film, unfortunately the novelty of the characters and what they do is somewhat lost.
Monsters University lacks originality; nevertheless it is a well made animation film with a few laughs and interesting new characters. Its biggest flaw lies in the fact that it bases itself in college, where the school going kids are too young to take in the nuances of college life, and the adults probably would have appreciated a bit more of adult humour. As for the college going audience, I’m not sure how many of them would want to be caught dead in a theatre playing a children’s animation... then again, I shouldn’t generalize.