Monsters University – Pass or Fail?

With the heat that was taking over the Northeast today, I needed something to do for part of the day that didn’t have us baking in the sun at the beach.  Being fair-skinned and of Irish and Polish ancestry means I don’t tan, I burn and then go back to glow in the dark white.  I fear that the daughter is the same.

The Husband had expressed no interest in seeing Monsters University so I figured, what the heck.  Let’s go check it out.


It opened up with a young Mike on an elementary school field trip to Monsters, Inc. to see how the factory collected screams and then used them for energy.  Poor Mike.  He was that kid that tried too hard.  He was smart but, had no friends.  After a stunt earns him the recognition of one of the big-shot scarers, Mike makes up his mind to get into Monster University and become a scarer.

Cue the opening credits and start the movie with the scene where Mike takes his first step on campus.  It reminded me of so many college flicks where the freshman walks the quad and tries to figure out which stereotypical club he or she fits into.  It was kind of funny knowing that it’s eerily true at some college campuses.  A lot of those parts, the Daughter just didn’t get but she still enjoyed it so that’s what counts.

Mike meets his roommate, Randall (yes the same Randall who tries to terrorize innocent Boo) and the two start out as good friends since both are Scaring majors. First day of class, they are both sitting in Scaring 101 and Sully makes his entrance.  He’s a legacy.  His father set a precedent and a lot is expected of him.  Sully doesn’t disappoint when he lets out an amazing roar that impresses the instructor and everyone else in the class.  Mike quickly sees that to achieve his dream, he has a lot of hard work ahead of him.

As the movie winds on, I found myself surprised at the message I kept picking up.  Mike had a dream.  It was an unlikely dream though, because he just wasn’t built for it.  He wasn’t scary enough to be a scarer, or so they kept telling him.  There was something just not quite there and there never would be.  At one point, Sully tells Mike that Mike may have memorized every scare theory in the book but there are just some things that can’t be taught.

This theme comes up a few more times and the events that transpire were a little shocking to me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve come to believe Disney is the home of “Good guys who try hard always win” or if it’s just I expected there to be some kind of positive message for the kids.

In the end, yes, the kids can see that with hard work you can get close to your dream but not quite there.  Sully got his dream.  Did Mike though?  Not really.

monsters inc magazine

I felt like they were trying to tell kids “Yeah, you’re going to try hard to achieve your biggest dream, but if you don’t fit that mold, don’t expect to achieve it.”  Ok, so Mike does something no monster had ever done before but it didn’t allow him to get to be a scarer, in fact, it forced him to almost give up on his dream altogether.  We all know that from watching Monsters, Inc.  Mike is a technician.  He’s a paper pusher.  He’s happy.  In the prequel, however, he is constantly reminded that he doesn’t fit the mold.

I wondered what the Daughter got out of it, because let’s face it, kids pick up some pretty wild things from movies.  She said she picked up the part where they broke into Monsters, Inc and didn’t want to get caught and go to jail.  “That was pretty funny, Mommy.”  Great, at least she knows that going to jail is bad.

She picked up on the bully fraternities and sororities that picked on Mike and his brothers.  She thought they weren’t very nice.  She also thought that the dean of the Scare College at Monsters University was scary and not nice.  I suppose that I shouldn’t worry too much that she didn’t say anything about accepting mediocrity, but the subconscious works in a funny way.

I know I’m probably reading too much into a Pixar movie, but it just struck me as funny that they kept hitting that point of you may not be cut out for something but that doesn’t mean you can’t find another thing that’s close to it and do that instead.  This is America, dammit! I want to keep believing in the American Dream! I want to believe that no matter what I look like, no matter where I come from, no matter what my name is, I can be whatever the hell I want to be as long as I work hard and am honest about my work!  To me, that’s a message I want the Daughter to learn, especially because she has been saying for the past year that she wants to be a doctor like her heart doctor.  I want to believe that if she works hard enough, she will be reviewing Echos and talking with her patients at some point in her life.  I don’t want anyone to tell her she’s just not scary enough to be a Scarer.



Filed under Movies, Reviews

2 responses to “Monsters University – Pass or Fail?

  1. It’s like the sports teams for kids where there is no scoring, and schools with no real grades – yes there is no pressure but there are also few goals. I hope there were some monsters stepping up to stop the bullying – it’s a message kids need to hear.
    And I just know she WILL be a heart doctor.
    Sending good vibes your way.

    • Yes – it’s strange to see it in action and maybe because I had that one parent that demanded perfection (which I have come to learn is impossible to achieve) it’s strange to see people not expect their children to reach for their biggest dreams or have any kind of competitive edge.

      I know she’ll be whatever she wants and as long as she’s happy, I’ll be cheering her on 100% of the way!

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