If you’re not scary, what kind of a monster are you? -Dean Hardscrabble, Monsters University
What do you do when one door closes, and closes hard? How do you discover what you’re really meant to do? That is the question Mike Wazowski must wrestle with in Pixar’s animated film, Monsters University, slated to be released in theaters this summer. It’s a question I’ve personally grappled with through various stages of my life, and one that will likely resonate with audiences young and old.
Last month, I headed back to “school” to delve into the long anticipated prequel that explores the beginnings of Mike and Sulley’s relationship and venture into scaring. Set 10 years before Monsters, Inc., the film tells their story. Mike and Sulley are an unlikely pair, brought together by the one thing they have in common…they both aspire to be scarers.
It’s not surprising that creating a prequel comes with its own inherent challenges. How do the filmmakers create a compelling, interesting story that still manages to surprise and delight audiences? During my time at Pixar, I had an opportunity to speak with Producer Kori Rae (of note, Rae also served as Associate Producer on Monsters, Inc.). From 8th grade English Teacher to Pixar Producer, Rae knows a thing or two about the journey to find your passions…to discover what it is you’re really meant to do.
Interestingly enough, the idea for a prequel was set early on. The filmmakers at Pixar wanted to explore who Mike and Sulley were before Monsters Inc. and how they ended up becoming the top scaring duo at the famed factory. College isn’t a world Pixar has really explored and so it seemed fitting, given that it is during this time in a young adult’s life where questions about what he/she is meant to do arise. “It’s happened to most of us…when we talk to our friends, our co-workers, and most of the people working here, a lot of them had other dreams and ended up here in a circuitous way” (Rae).
As the story unfolds, we watch as Mike pursues the one thing he believes he is meant to do…and fails. We are always told that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. But that isn’t always true in life, and I love how Pixar approaches this in a way that is meaningful and relevant to a very broad audience. “Sometimes that is true, and sometimes you hit that brick wall and you have to figure out where to go from there” (Rae). Pixar’s Monsters University tells a different version of that “story” and as you might expect, it doesn’t end how you think it should.
Sully and Mike could not be any more different, but they are united by their failures and their successes. “Sometimes you think you’re meant to do something and then you discover that wasn’t really the thing” (Rae). It is Sulley who helps Mike discover that “thing.”
Monsters University is a heartwarming film about the journey we take to pursue our dreams. It is filled with all of the humor and heart you would expect from Pixar with a touch of nostalgia. See it in theaters on June 21st, 2013.
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No compensation was received for this post. I was invited on a press trip to cover the film’s release and travel was provided. #MonstersUEvent
Images: Disney/Pixar, used with permission.