Pixar's latest animated feature is a G-rated prequel, so there's no doubt that it's kid friendly. The real questions are: Will your kids be entertained? Will you be entertained? Is it worth the cost of taking the entire family?
First, watch the trailer (below), so you get a sense of what "Monsters University" is about -- especially if you haven't seen "Monsters, Inc." and aren't already familiar with the lovable monsters Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman).
The prequel takes place years before the action of "Monsters, Inc." when Mike and Sulley meet in the "Scarers" program at the prestigious Monsters University. Sulley, a legacy, is (no surprise) the big frosh on campus, while Mike is seen as book-smart but completely un-scary. After the pair is kicked out of the program, they band together with the least-respected fraternity on campus, Oozma Kappa (OK), to compete in the Greek Games. If they succeed, the severe Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) will let them back into the Scarer School.
Will Kids Love It? Yes! In my experience, it takes an especially awful movie for kids to go "meh." Pixar movies rule supreme for many little kids, who will value the excellent animation, characterization, and most of all humor of the story. Kids who've seen "Monsters, Inc." again and again already know and care about Mike and Sulley, and they'll get a kick out of seeing them (and Randall!) as young monsters hoping to make it as Scarers. They know it's going to eventually end well, and there's little of menace in this prequel, unlike the original which featured a lot more frightening scenes. The jokes will equal big laughs, and even though they won't "get" the references to the campus experience, they'll still enjoy watching Mike try to prevail with his group of misfit friends.
Will Parents Enjoy Themselves? Parenting is full of sacrifices, movie selections included (how many talking dog movies must we sit through?). But, "Monsters University" is a parental treat. Anyone who has stepped foot on a university campus (regardless of whether you belonged to a fraternity or sorority), or has simply seen any of those old-school frat comedies, will relate to the college humor and laugh at the various detailed sight gags, like the student activity fair, the coddling Ms. Squibbles, and the references to characters in the original, like Roz and the Yeti (kids'll love those cameos too). Plus, there are plenty of teachable moments in the film, from the issues of cheating and procrastinating to teamwork and friendship.
Do We Pay the 3D Charge? Pixar knows how to handle 3D, so I say splurge if you can swing it, but skimp and see it in 2D if you have children with sensory issues, or who won't keep the glasses on no matter how many times you adjust them.
Who Should Go? Easy. Everyone: Preschoolers and teens; childless couples on a date night; college kids home for the summer; grandparents treating the grandbabies for a matinee – this is truly one of those movies everyone will find a reason to appreciate, with the possible exception of hardcore Pixar purists, who expect every one of the studio's films to out-do "Up," "Wall-E," or "Finding Nemo."
With its considerable charms, "Monsters University" is a must-see for everyone else this summer. Also, don't forget to stay all the way through the end-credits for a final bonus scene.