We’re only a few days away from a very exciting time of year for Pixar fans, the release of their newest film. For their fourteenth effort, as you are no doubt aware, Pixar is looking back with a prequel to Monsters, Inc. called Monsters University, in which we see how Mike Wazowski, James P. Sullivan and the rest of the Monstropolis crew became the adult monsters they were in the 2001 movie through their collegial exploits. And so, why not spend today’s column looking back at that original movie for another monthly look at a Pixar moment? The world of Monstropolis, sometimes more teased at than revealed in full, is a fascinating parallel to humanity, yet its apex is a series of doors to our world.
'Monsters University' News
The cornerstone of the Walt Disney Company is nostalgia. Every film they make, every character they create, every world they concoct furthers the notion that looking back at your past, dreaming of a time when everyone said it was truly wondrous to be alive, well before the minor frustrations of the future took over, is the best possible way to approach life. What are Disney’s theme parks if not various ways in which to embrace youth, either your own or the country’s? So many of their movies call to mind a vision of the “good old days,” a manufactured simulacrum that makes us wistful, wishing we’d been around at the turn of the century, say, or that we’d known as we lived our childhoods that we should cherish them appropriately. The irony is that the more technologically groundbreaking Disney films—and especially Pixar films— are, the more nostalgic they become.
Late last week, the Walt Disney Company decided to expand our knowledge of their inner workings just a little bit, specific to the future of their animation studios. Anyone who may have been concerned, for example, that Walt Disney Feature Animation would be going the way of the dodo (this writer is among them) could breathe a bit easier because of this news story. In some ways, the entire story is fairly random—why Disney chose to announce its animation slate through 2018 at the end of May 2013, we may never know—but it’s got plenty of information we can parse through. Specific to Pixar and this week’s column, the topic of concern is multiple films in one year.
Pixar Animation Studios is the exemplar of originality in Hollywood. This is what we remind ourselves when we get frustrated that they’ve announced a sequel to Finding Nemo or a prequel to Monsters, Inc. If those sequels turn out to be more like Toy Story 2 instead of Cars 2, then good for all of us. But when we think of Pixar, we think original. They may pay homage to animated and live-action films from across the globe, of course; however, what the animators and filmmakers in Emeryville, California do has always been based on original ideas. Today, after considering a recently unearthed report, it’s time to ponder the opposite: what if Pixar did traffic in adaptations of preexisting material?
Depending on your age and attitude, it has become very difficult over the last month to not be cynical about the state of affairs at the Walt Disney Company. Though Disney appears to be, financially, as high as they’ve ever been, the company is cutting costs left and right, up to and including letting long-time employees go. Some of the more high-profile layoffs have targeted, inadvertently, one hopes, touchstones of many a Millennial child. Last year, people thrilled at the idea that Disney was now in league with the seminal video-game company LucasArts as part of buying Lucasfilm as a whole. A few weeks ago, those same people were depressed to hear that Disney shuttered the company for good, essentially outsourcing future video games. And now, Disney’s axed a number of their most venerated employees in the hand-drawn animation department, cementing the notion that hand-drawn animation is persona non grata at a company that built its reputation on that illustrative vision.
Over the last year or so, there’s been a trend online where people create short videos in which they list a series of problems they spotted in a mainstream movie, from Skyfall to Looper to The Dark Knight Rises. These videos all have received a disturbing amount of traction, as if their creators deserve a pat on the back for seeing what the rest of us, apparently, didn’t see or chose to ignore. These bite-sized excuses for modern film criticism are created by people who presume they’re being insightful, which is far from the truth. Better still, when they’re called out for their unnecessary whining, as happened when Looper’s director, Rian Johnson, got audibly frustrated at one of these videos, they half-heartedly shield themselves behind the “Oh, it’s just a joke!” excuse. Among Pixar films, Brave avoided this nitpicking—at least on such a grand scale. But if this video is any hint, we may need to batten down the virtual hatches because the nitpickers are already unloading on Monsters University. [Read more...]
Great movie trailers are something of a lost art. While we are overloaded with ads for every new big-budget movie these days, they’re getting more obnoxious, cacophonous, and ruinous. Depending on the movie, you can go onto its website or YouTube and see a handful of TV spots—most of which repurpose the same shots, action, and dialogue, but tweak them ever so slightly to stand out—as well as teaser trailers and full trailers that often lay out a movie’s entire plot. If they don’t, they’re almost certainly going to show you some of the most impressive bits of action or the funniest jokes. It feels as if we’ve been clucking our tongues at trailers that spoil the films they sell since the advent of the Internet. So why, exactly, should we watch trailers for movies we know we’re going to see? [Read more...]
According to Variety, Paramount shuffled some release dates around yesterday, which is fairly common in the film industry. Disney and Pixar have surely taken notice as zombie film World War Z, which is being adapted from the popular Max Brooks novel, has been pushed from this holiday season to June 21, 2013, a date that Pixar’s Monsters University originally had all to itself. If the change holds up, it looks like monsters will be battling some zombies for the box office crown that weekend. [Read more...]
At a 20th Anniversary screening of City Slickers on Friday night, Billy Crystal had a chance to speak about his upcoming role in the prequel film, Monsters University. Returning as the voice of the hilarious Mike Wazowski, Crystal spoke with Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog, who moderated the event. Apparently, the actor had just finished working on an extensive voicing session for the film, and his voice was a bit hoarse. Read on for some thought from Billy Crystal on the highly anticipated Monsters University! [Read more...]
Scott Clark, who has previously served as a supervising animator on such Pixar films as Cars and Up, is back at it again as he announced earlier today that he is “supervising the animation team on Monsters University.” The only other crew member that has been officially announced for the film is Dan Scanlon, who is directing the film for release in 2013. [Read more...]
Box Office Mojo, which has made announcements of release date changes rather often, shared that the prequel film to Monsters, Inc., Monsters University, has been pushed back from November, 2012 to June, 2013. Next year would have been the first time that Disney/Pixar was set to release two feature films in one year, an exciting feat. The second release date change for the film (it was originally pushed up a few weeks) does not mean the film is headed for a disaster, as the extra time likely gives the studio more time to maintain the quality of film that audiences around the world have come to respect. [Read more...]
CinemaCon is an event where studios preview their upcoming titles to theater owners. Last year, when the event was still called ShoWest, it was reported that many in attendance cried during a screening of an unfinished copy of Toy Story 3. That was our first clue that the studio had created another fantastic film. This year, Disney has shared something else, in the form of an official title. We already knew another Monsters, Inc. film was coming but now we have an actual title: Monsters University. [Read more...]