Monsters University: 6 Reasons This Pixar Movie Is So Underrated And Deserves Way More Love

Mike and Sully in Monsters University
(Image credit: Pixar)

Getting up on my soapbox here – Monsters University is a criminally underrated Pixar movie and I am here to stand for it in its honor. 

Yes, I know that Pixar has made some absolutely amazing films. From the emotional moments in Soul to the beautiful world of Brave to the neverending franchise that seems to be Toy Story, Pixar single handedly created some of the best stories in film of the 20th and 21st century so far, and one of their awesome movies is Monsters Inc., the story of Mike and Sulley and their job as scarers.

Twelve years after the release of the original film, the prequel, Monsters University debuted, and while the movie itself received good press and reviews, I feel like I never see people talk about it as much as they should. As someone who looks at Monsters University as one of her comfort films, I’m here to give the reasons why you need to watch this movie if you haven’t – and why it’s so criminally underrated. 

Mike and Sulley in Monsters University.

(Image credit: Pixar)

First Off, It’s A Great Origin Story About How Mike And Sulley Met

Mike and Sulley were the next best duo since Buzz and Woody from Toy Story. These two (voiced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal), while they had very contradicting personalities, worked so well together. 

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Mike was the fast-paced businessman that made sure Sulley kept working and breaking records, and he had the ability to charm anyone and had some great ideas about how to keep their scares fresh with his partner. Sulley was a sweet, hardworking guy who honestly had a heart of gold in the original movie when dealing with Boo.

Who ever would have thought that these two started as enemies in school? It makes so much sense, though. Watching them interact and slowly grow their partnership throughout the film was so gratifying, because it added a new layer to their friendship in the original movie, and made me love them even more. 

It’s even nicer to see the character development; watching them change from young adults who didn’t care about much but themselves, into smart young men who worked their way up in the world. You can’t help but love them.

Mike in Monsters University.

(Image credit: Pixar)

The Design For The Actual University Is Freaking Awesome

So, fun fact – Monsters University came out my freshman year of high school, right at the very end of it, and at that point, I was already thinking about college and where to go. I was a planner, very much so. 

I saw Monsters University in theaters with some friends and realized just how much I wanted to go to a university like that. Fast-forward three years later and I was attending Penn State, probably one of the most recognizable college campuses in the United States, and it was because of the design of the university that I ended up going to a place like Penn State. 

This movie made me want that college experience – the campus filled with academic kids and cheering fans in a big stadium and so many organizations you can hardly imagine how the students keep track. Everything was designed so perfectly and worked so well, and even now, three years after graduating, I still think this movie (as well as Pitch Perfect) were the reasons I ended up going with the school I did. 

The amount of effort and time that went into generating and creating this college campus is well-appreciated and done exceptionally.

Mike and Sulley in Monsters University.

(Image credit: Pixar)

And The Music Is Outstanding And Screams “College”

When you’re creating a college movie, oftentimes, you want to make sure the music fits with the theme. When I think of films such as Legally Blonde, I think of “Perfect Day” from the beginning of the movie, which fits the overall tone. When I think of Monsters University, the score is the first thing that comes to mind. 

It’s so collegiate. Every time I listen to the main theme for this film, I feel a smile come across my face. It almost feels as if I’m a student getting ready for my first day of classes again and I’m nervous but excited all at the same time. It’s the perfect score that elicits the anticipation that college brings, and I have to give praise to the composer, Randy Newman. He just doesn’t miss. 

Mike, Sulley and all the new characters in Monsters University.

(Image credit: Pixar)

The New Characters Were Honestly Hilarious And Great Additions

I could re-watch these characters over and over and never get sick of them. They make me laugh so much. I love the original Monsters Inc. cast and how hilarious they are, but these new characters were voiced perfectly and added so much to the story, both in heart and hilarity. 

Take Art, for example, voiced by Charlie Day. He seems like a cool, go-with-the-flow monster but he says the most outrageous things and lived the craziest life before becoming a part of a fraternity. At one point, when he was terrified of getting caught by the police, he yells, “I can’t go back to jail!” Every time I listen to that, I cry laughing because the line is delivered so perfectly – and you’re left wondering, “What the heck did this guy do before?”

Or, we could talk about Julia Sweeney, who voiced Sheri Squibbles, the mother of one of the frat brothers, and had some of the funniest moments of the movie – especially when this sweet old lady ended up listening to death metal in her car. The new characters are hilarious and full of life and I love them so much.

Randall in Monsters University.

(Image credit: Pixar)

Randall Was Side-Lined A Bit – But The Way The Rivalry Between Him And Sulley Was Set Up Was Perfect

So here’s the thing – I love Steve Buscemi, and I actually really love Randall from Monsters Inc.. While I do think that he wasn’t necessarily a super threatening villain in comparison to Waternoose, a really excellent Pixar villain, he had some memorable moments in the first film that made me want to return to him in the prequel. 

Admittingly, Randall is pushed to the side of the narrative so it can focus more on the budding friendship between Mike and Sulley, which is fair. I wish we could have seen more of his college years but that’s my own personal opinion. However, I do love how they set up his rivalry with Sulley. 

The fact that Randall was embarrassed that Sulley’s roar scared him during the Scare Games, and in turn swears he would never lose to Sulley ever again – that’s a great set-up. It’s a very simple way to establish that grudge, and that growing resentment he had for Sulley for some time. Wonderful way to begin that story. 

Mike and Sulley in the mail room of Monsters University.

(Image credit: Pixar)

It Also Teaches Valuable Lessons About Adapting In Life

I think one of the things I really do like the most about this movie is that it teaches a very honest lesson – sometimes, the things we want in life don’t always work out, so we have to adapt in order to succeed. Mike spent his whole life dreaming of being a scarer but he just wasn’t meant to do it. The whole movie, he attempts to prove himself but realizes at the end, it’s not what he is cut out to be. 

But, when he and Sulley need to somehow get back to the monster world after going through a door at school, he has to put his mind to the test to help them return. When they are expelled and decide to join Monsters Inc. as mailroom workers, they push through it and work up from the top – and soon, he's a scarer assistant because of his smarts. 

This is the perfect example of how people can grow and change despite what they might have wanted not working out for them. It’s a wonderful lesson to teach kids, as well as adults, and something we all need a little bit more of in our lives. 

There truly is so much to love about this movie, from the characters to the story and design, and I needed to talk about it today. If you haven’t gotten the chance to watch it, be sure to check it out on Disney+ when you can. You won’t regret it. 

Stream Monsters University on Disney+. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.