The Prophecy: How Monsters University Could Determine the Fate of Pixar

Monsters University comes out this Friday. And I really, really want it to be good.

I don’t just say that because I’ve already purchased a ticket to see it at the 10:40 “midnight premiere” (when did theaters start doing that? It makes no sense) and I hate wasting eleven dollars on bad movies. Or because I loved the first Monsters Inc. and would hate for them to ruin one of my favorite Pixar films. Or because Toy Story 3 gave me all the feels in the best way possible and I would love to repeat that experience.

While these things are all true, I mostly want this movie to be good because Pixar needs this movie to be good.

In fact, I think Monsters University might just prophesize the future success of Pixar. Let me explain.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have an intense love and admiration for the people of Pixar. They are artists and filmmakers of the highest caliber who truly care about their craft. They have delivered the cinematic wonders that are Wall-E, Up!, Ratatouille and Finding Nemo. I worship these people and thank them for the warm squishy feelings they give me in my tummy.

And for 15 years, Pixar was all but infallable. But in the last two years, that luster seems to have faded.

First, they made the head-scratching/blatant marketing decision to create a sequel for their debatably worst and least popular film, Cars. They then failed to redeem that decision by making a truly terrible movie. Seriously, I’ve tried to sit through that thing three times and have never been able to make it. Every time Mater opens his mouth I want to throw things that are sharp at things that are fluffy. Turns out I wasn’t alone. Critics and audiences agreed that Cars 2 was Pixar’s first true cinematic failure. They weren’t even nominated for an Oscar that year. [Big Bro’s note: And seriously, how hard would it have been to beat Rango?]

The following year Pixar produced Brave, which garnered some initial excitement, but ultimately was met with a lukewarm response. True, Merida successfully joined the ranks of Disney princesses and gathered praise (myself included) for being a dynamic heroine who served as a superior role model for young children. They also snapped up the Oscar for Best Animated Film.

Still, the general consensus was that Brave did not live up to the ‘Pixar Standard’ and murmurs around the internets began to wonder if Pixar had lost their touch.

Yes, we might be over reacting. Brave is still a far superior movie to most of the garbage being churned out by animation studios these days – seriously, Epic looks like an even bigger rip-off of Ferngully than Avatar. Although, with successful and, more importantly, good movies like Despicable Me and How to Train Your Dragon coming out these days, other companies are starting to play some catch up.

But it’s really only two Pixar movies in a row that haven’t passed muster. Two movies do not indicate a definite decline in quality.

But three movies? That could be dangerous. Three indicates a pattern that might knock Pixar off the proverbial animated mountain on which they have reigned for so long.

Plus, this is a sequel. And Pixar is now part of Disney. Which makes this a Disney sequel.

And lord knows there is nothing worse for a Disney superfan than a goddam Disney sequel. They are like bundling together your childhood teddy, imaginary friend, and beloved cat, and incinerating them in a fiery pit of half assed plotting and campy yet forgettable songs. It actually hurts inside.

[Big Bro’s note: Technically it’s a prequel, but your terrifying point remains terrifyingly valid.]

Why you hurt me, Disney?

Pixar wants to avoid this association at all costs, because Pixar is making more sequels. They’ve recently announced Finding Dory will come out in 2015, and people have been discussing a sequel to The Incredibles for years. They have proven they can continue a story with the Toy Story trilogy (I actually tear up just typing the title, damn you Lee Unkrich!). But they’ve also shown they can make a truly shitty sequel with Cars 2. Which one was the anomaly and which was the norm?

Monsters University might just tell us. Are they still the masters of animated storytelling, or have they turned into a sub-par sequel machine? Whether it’s fair or not, this one movie could very well be the tip of the scale that will affect opening weekend profit sales and general excitement for Pixar’s following movies and sequels.

Were the last two years flukes, proving that even Pixar is human? Or is it a sign that they are out of good ideas and are now just cranking out movies aimed at our wallets instead of our hearts?

So for the sake of this production company that I have come to esteem so highly, I really hope Monsters University is good. Stay tuned. This Friday you will either hear the sounds of my obnoxious fan girl squeals or that of my heart breaking into a thousand furry pieces (follow me on Twitter for that first reaction).

For now, Pixar, I’ve got my eye on you.



I saw it last night and…

Not impressed.

Not that it’s not a good movie. It is a fun, enjoyable film that had some great moments and is definitely worth seeing. It just…didn’t impress me. Not the way Pixar movies have consistently impressed me in the past. If Pixar was hoping to get their cred back, this was not the movie to do it with.

All I can say is their next film, The Good Dinosaur, better be flippin’ amazing. Otherwise, it’s not looking good, Pixar. It’s not looking good.