But first, The Blue Umbrella, the pre-movie short. My review of The Blue Umbrella will be written in the form of a letter:
Tacking on a happy ending does not make up for the abject misery you just made me sit through.
This letter applies to almost all of your pre-movie shorts.
Okay, now on to Monsters University.
Parts of it were funny and overall it was a very good movie but I can't exactly say I liked it.
I didn't hate it. I didn't even dislike it. I just didn't like it. It made my heart hurt.
The pre-credits opening made my heart hurt for Little Mike Wazowski who all the other kids in his class picked on. The introduction of Randall Boggs as a cheerful, likeable lizard creature made my heart hurt knowing he's the villain in Monsters Incorporated. College-Aged Mike Wazowski's undying desire to be a scarer made my heart hurt knowing he never moves on to that career. The old "jocks picking on the nerds" trope throughout the movie made my heart hurt because it always makes my heart hurt.
I saw the Carrie homage coming a mile away and the scene after it, with one fraternity humiliating another, was the first of many scenes to make me cry.
People never seem to understand why I don't like Pixar and it's really hard to verbalize, but I'll do my best:
Pixar revels in cruelty. Pixar loves to see its characters suffer. The reason I love Brave is because it's the only Pixar movie that doesn't rip your heart out and show it to you. (Except Cars. Or maybe Cars did do that and I was just too stupifyingly bored to notice.)
What Monsters University truly is at its core is a Root For The Underdog Sports Movie. Which is not a genre I seek out but in this case its done very well. The main characters are all one hundred percent lovable and the bad guys are classic, cartoonishly assholey jocks who (in my experience, anyway) don't exist in real life. Admittedly I never went to college but in high school I never saw any "jocks versus nerds" conflict. It was all more "everybody hangs out with their own groups of friends and doesn't bug anybody else."
The point is, it's a plot device I never liked to begin with. It's manipulative and painful to have to watch. Too much sadness there. I can't completely enjoy a movie that focuses on it.
There is a lot of good in Monsters University, mostly from the Oozma Kappa fraternity members, John Goodman's performance as Sully (they gave him almost all the really strong emotional moments in the movie and he gives a damn good performance. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I genuinely don't trust anyone who claims to not like John Goodman) and the impressive animation on the grumpy, dragony dean. There were a lot of parts that made me smile and I think there were one or two parts that even made me laugh.
But overall I walked out feeling sad.
I almost always walk out of Pixar movies feeling sad, even when they end on a happy note.
End of line.