Does Monsters University send out a bad message to kids?

So I've been reading reviews about the movie, and a lot of them are mixed. Furthermore, most, if not all reviewers bring up the unexpected route that Pixar took while tackling the story -- or more importantly, the film's ending. Thus, I've gotten hold of 2 reviews that go talk about it in depth, plus the very question of whether it was right to set the film in college when most of the audience (i.e. young kids) know nothing about college.

Note: Obviously, the two articles contain SPOILERS concerning the movie because they discuss the ending.

'Monsters University': Your Safety School at Best
By Michael S. Goldberger
Consider it no great loss if your future college kid doesn't attend director Dan Scanlon's "Monsters University," a disappointing prequel to "Monsters, Inc." (2001) delivered with an ultimately curious message in useless 3-D. While Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their verbalizations, most of the first film's supporting staff fails to matriculate.

But it's lack of magic, vision and artistry that keeps this underachiever from entry into Filmdom's Ivy League of kiddy flicks. Embarrassingly bereft of all inspiration beyond the profit incentive, the unimaginative screenplay recalls the desperation of a student looking to copy from an, ahem, smarter source. The result is pointlessly cumbersome.

Aside from some vaunted booing and visual ballyhooing as freshmen monsters Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) try to earn degrees in scaring, there's little in this G-rated animation to hold Taylor or Britney's interest. Or, as my succinct review for the fortune cookie company reads: "A story seeking common ground between child and adult finds only the error of its ways."

This alleged adult enjoyed the story only for the early exposition as rituals of freshman year nostalgically jogged memories of those initial days at dear Olde Ivy Film Criticism College -- the wondrous uncertainties, the posturing, the discovery, the outlandish tales, and most of all the crazy characters with whom you would share the defining experience.

From there it's all downhill, the droning on of formulaic notions deficient in any true creative joy. The saga is enunciated with the perfunctory bedtime story cadence of the babysitter you only hire when the really good one is busy. With a running time of 110 minutes, accompanying adults will wish Pixar didn't give you your money's worth.

But little movie palates don't care about the pompous perceptions of those engaged in speculating which movies they'll like. Inscrutably picking and choosing nonetheless, solely by chance some moppets between 5 and 8 will find this film mildly amusing. They may even want a DVD to play the den ad nauseam. Big deal if they can't follow the plot.

But it'll be the change of venue, a place to be rambunctious with other ragamuffins en masse and the concession stand that wows them more than the movie. I think if it weren't for the fact that I was "being good" the day I saw "Monsters University," a "Best Value"-sized popcorn bucket, some Whoppers and a Baby Ruth might have ameliorated matters.

You see, until they do the sci-fi thing in their teens, discover subtitles at the art house when in college and then more or less cultivate their cinema tastes whilst spooning around for a mate, it's really just an outing. The studios hope you'll take 'em, good reviews or bad. So, you pass this one off on the grandparents if possible. You won't fool them, but then, they know you by now.

In any case, per Dr. Halberstoddter back at Olde Ivy, "No matter how insipid the movie and how inane a task it seems, it behooves the critic to devote at least a few words to the film's gist." Which puts me in a sort of spot. To inform what disgruntles most about the movie's purport, I'll have to give away a bit and make you swear you won't tell Junior.

That agreed, note that, no matter how things go for Mike and Sulley at Monsters University, we know that later, in "Monsters, Inc.," they will become gainfully employed, probably have their own apartment, health benefits and maybe even a 401k. Save for their relative happiness, what more could a parent ask? But the road to that goal winds oddly.

The film ends rather bizarrely. That is, unless you're aiming to teach the kid a really big lesson in existentialism. Fact is, except for winning some bragging rights, the guys don't do very well at school. And what's worse, it isn't for lack of effort, especially in Wazowski's case. Geez... Bush graduates Yale, and these guys can't even... oh well.

With all respect to Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and any other billionaire wunderkinds who've proved that you don't need a diploma to make tons of money, I doubt there's a high school guidance counselor in the country who points out their path as an option -- "Let's see Billy, you can go to Harvard, Stanford, or, maybe just invent something, huh?"

You might as well advise them to shoot for one of the 400 spots in the NBA. But back to it, perhaps the flaunted lack of academic progress is meant to promote the fun side of failing. All of which might suggest that, while "Monsters University" doesn't prove very funny to either us or our own little monsters, its founders had a blast flunking this review.


Chances are, if you have kids, you’ll at some point watch “Monsters University” – the latest Disney-Pixar movie to hit the screens, a follow-up to the wildly popular 2001 “Monsters, Inc.”

But what’s important to note about the movie – and of course not surprisingly since it’s coming from Hollywood – is that much of it amounts to a leftwing propaganda piece.

Look no further than a review by Kevin Kiley of Inside Higher Ed, who spells it out quite nicely, albeit he likely doesn’t have a problem with the movie’s angle.

“… more than a comment on college, Monsters University is a film about diversity, the innate differences between individuals, and the institutions and situations that help foster connections and understanding between those individuals. Which makes it fitting that the film is released today in the shadow of a potential landmark Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action expected to come next week.

The movie is about the challenge of limited talent and the realization that hard work can only take one so far – and sometimes not even as far as people who are just “born with it.” But it’s also about what students in the social and intellectual crucible of college can learn from each other and how those interactions shape worldviews and change lives.

One can walk away from the movie with the impression that the administrators and faculty at Monsters University would happily join in the amicus brief filed in the affirmative action case by a group of private university administrators who said ‘a diverse student body adds significantly to the rigor and depth of students’ educational experience. Diversity encourages students to question their own assumptions, to test received truths, and to appreciate the spectacular complexity of the modern world. This larger understanding prepares … graduates to be active and engaged citizens wrestling with the pressing challenges of the day, to pursue innovation in every field of discovery, and to expand humanity’s learning and accomplishment.’

We don’t have a problem with diversity.

We have a problem with the fact that the priorities of the modern college experience have morphed from teaching relevant facts and skills to instead constantly force-feeding notions of diversity and tolerance in the quad, in the classroom, in homework assignments, like something akin to a religious cult.

Decades ago, college used to prioritize getting a good education and marketable skills. Now it’s about indoctrinating students, telling them they’re ignorant, racist homophobes – all the while refusing to allow intellectual diversity to thrive on campus.

Noted columnist John Leo stated it a lot more eloquently when he said recently that “when they stress diversity and sustainability they’re not stressing intellect or achievement or knowledge. They’re segueing over to social principle rather than learning. I don’t know how many people get that. Colleges should not be in the social activism business. You can do that in your spare time.” He made the comments not in relation to the movie, but to the sorry state of the academe today.

We shouldn’t be surprised that a Hollywood film aimed at kids that’s set on a college campus would promote diversity, and would teach kids – as Kiley put it, “that hard work can only take one so far.”

Sure, there are some positive lessons in the movie, too. Endearing moments. Many laughs. There’s even a surprise twist Kiley points out that will sit well with folks who predict the higher education system in America is slowly imploding.

But mindless entertainment? Not exactly.

What did you think of the movie, ONTD? Did you agree with the message(s) concerning individuality + achieving one's dreams? Should the college setting have been changed in order as to not alienate young viewers? And lastly... Were you a Sulley or a Mike in school? I was totally a Sulley tbh.

Source 1 and Source 2
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