Last night I finally had the chance to watch Monsters University with Namine and Jessica. I hadn’t really had any great desire to see it – not when it was in the theaters, and not since it was released on video – but I have four free Redbox rentals to burn up, so I decided to get it for Namine. If I enjoyed it too, well, all the better.
I don’t normally have much interest in prequels released after the original movie. For the most part, they have little to offer, as we already know the characters. The interest lies, then, in discovering how the characters came to be whom they are.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mike and Sully, as they are at the start of Monsters, Inc., are not particularly compelling characters. They’re best friends, and they’ve known each other since at least the fourth grade. (This turns out to have been retconned in Monsters University, since they apparently meet for the first time in college.) Of course it’s the journey of their adversity in taking care of a human child — and their different reactions to said child — that makes it interesting.
Ultimately, Monsters University does make the journey — discovering how Mike and Sully came to be best friends — interesting. But I’m straying from the point I wanted to make. The story of Mike and Sully is ultimately, at least to me, not that interesting. It’s told well, but it’s not the story I’m most interested in. After all, they start the movie as basically good
people monsters; they end the movie as more or less the same, just having gained a new best friend.
No, the story I’m most interested in is one glossed over. The story I’m most interested in is the story of Randall. When we meet him at the start of Monsters University, he is vastly different from the monster we first met in Monsters, Inc. We are shown briefly at intervals throughout the movie how he fell in with the cool kids, the top fraternity on campus. Near the end we are given a reason for his fierce rivalry with Sully.
But here’s my problem. By the end, Monsters University just spent 110 minutes to tell us that differences cannot be overcome, and two unlike individuals can become friends after all. What makes Sully and Randall so different? Why couldn’t their differences be overcome?