Animators have a long-standing history of hiding small easter eggs for audiences to find, including references to the real world, to other films, and to famous figures. While many film studios do it (including those that produce live-action films), Pixar’s easter eggs tend to generate the most publicity. That is because there are several easter eggs that the studio hides in every single one of its films, including a nod to its upcoming films. Through personal observations and help from the fans, I have compiled a preliminary list of the easter eggs in Monsters University, which you can see after the break!
WARNING: At least two of the easter eggs appear during the last act, so please beware of spoilers. Also, part of the fun of easter eggs is discovering them on your own, so if you prefer to catch them by yourself, come back later and compare notes!
UPDATE (6/27/13): Disney/Pixar has provided us with several screenshots of the Easter eggs. Images have been added in below.
It has become a tradition for Pixar to hide a reference to CalArts classroom A113, which many now-famous figures in the animation industry attended, including Pixar’s own John Lasseter and Brad Bird. In Monsters University, it is the number of the classroom at the Scaring School used throughout the film. You can see A113 when Sulley first enters the class at the beginning of the film.
Pizza Planet Truck
The Pizza Planet Truck appeared several times in the studio’s first feature film, Toy Story, the success of which paved the way for the many beloved classics from the company. As an homage to its first film, the Pizza Planet Truck has appeared in all of the animation studio’s films, except for The Incredibles (yes, I know some of you still believe that the truck is seen on screen in the film, but even director Brad Bird has acknowledged it is not there). While the truck is seen rather easily in the Toy Story films, it has to be hidden extremely well in other films, such as Brave, which was set in ancient Scotland.
The Pizza Planet Truck can be seen in Monsters University, as Mike and Sulley chase Archie the Scare Pig, which Sulley has stolen from rival school Fear Tech. The truck can be briefly seen parked outside the Jaws Theta Chi (JOX) house where Mike ultimately catches Archie.
Luxo Jr.’s Ball
In the second short from the studio, entitled Luxo Jr., a lamp hops across the screen and plays with a yellow ball that has a red star on it. The lamp became the studio’s mascot, hopping by the Pixar logo before flattening the ‘I’ before the start of every Pixar feature film. The ball can be seen rolling through scenes or even drawn on walls in other Pixar films. In Monsters University, Luxo Jr.’s ball is in graffiti on the wall behind Claire Wheeler and Brock Pearson during their introduction to the Scare Games’ first challenge.
John Ratzenberger, who gained notoriety for playing Cliff Calvin on the television show Cheers, has voiced a character in all of Pixar’s feature films. The studio calls him its good luck charm and will continue to cast him in its future films, for at least a small cameo. In Monsters, Inc., he played the hilarious Abominable Snowman that Sulley and Mike encounter. In Monsters University, Ratzenberger reprises the role in an extremely clever way – he is seen as a mail-room employee in the Monsters, Inc. factory at the very end of the film. Those who remember Ratzenberger’s Cheers character may recall that he played a postal worker on the show. In his Monsters University cameo, he notes that employees that get caught stealing mail are banished, humorously foreshadowing his placement in the original film. The great mix of creativity and humor easily makes this one of the best Ratzenberger/Pixar cameos.
Of course there have to be references to the original 2001 film in Monsters University. There are two great ones that we have highlighted below:
- Little Mikey – The plush belongs to Mike in Monsters, Inc. but Boo essentially takes over ownership. It would make absolute sense for Mike’s childhood plush to be seen in the prequel. It can be seen several times in Monsters University, in Mike’s living quarters. At one point, It is on the shelf in Mike and Sulley’s room at the Oozma Kappa (OK) fraternity house.
- Winds of Change – In an early scene in Monsters, Inc., Randall Boggs states to Mike and Sulley, “Shh. Do you hear that? It’s the winds of change.” In Monsters University, above Boggs’ bed, you can see a hanging poster of a tree’s leaves being blown away, accompanied by the text, “Winds of Change. Shhh. Do you hear them?”.
The Good Dinosaur
Pixar likes to also hide references to its upcoming films. While a Nemo toy is seen in an obvious cameo in Monsters, Inc., the studio has started to make it more challenging to find these references. They can be even more difficult to spot, because we could be looking for practically anything, including a poster, a toy, a sign, or even a drawing.
In Monsters University, there are some dinosaur toys that can be seen on the bedroom floor during the last event of the Scare Games. One of them is clearly the dinosaur in the concept art seen for The Good Dinosaur.
There will likely be more easter eggs found as the film just opened and we are likely to spot more. Additionally, once we can grab the official screenshots, we will update the post with more images from Monsters University. Missed some of these references or want to find others? Head back out to see the film! In between the hunt, you can enjoy the uplifting story and the stunning animation.
Notice any easter eggs not listed above? Feel free to share with everyone below!