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Monsters University (3D)

7/10

Stars: Voices: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Sean Hayes, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray. Dave Foley, Charlie Day

Director: Dan Scanlon

This Disney/{Pixar animation is a true prequel as it ends exactly where the previous film began. Here we meet the youthful Mike Wazowski (Crystal), the one-eyed green globule, arriving to enrol at the title institution - motto: 'We scare because we care'.

Mike finds himself rooming with the sneaky Randall (Buscemi), a snake with feet, both subsequently enlisting in the scare class, which is disrupted by the arrival of Sulley (Goodman), who has a heritage of scaring to live up to, but thinks it's all a doddle.

Thrown out of the class for breaking the Dean's sole souvenir of the ultimate scare, Mike and Sulley's only way back into the class is to win the Hunger Games - beg pardon, make that Scare Games - assisted by the biggest fraternity of losers on the campus.

That's the story structure and it's pretty clich├ęd, but there are a few good laughs, a frantic pace, and one or two notable new creations, particularly Dean Hardscrabble, a mixture of bat, snake and centipede, and played with steely demeanour by Helen Mirren. Also impressive is the lorgnette-wielding librarian who turns out to be a grey, squid-like giantess.

Some of the voice cast are getting pretty long in the fang now, although it's hard to imagine anyone but Goodman voicing the grouchy, thick-skulled, self-important Sulley, a furry turquoise monster with pink patches and a drooping tail. The idea of monsters existing to scare children is still faintly creepy, but, given that proviso, it's all good fun.

Also in the programme is The Blue Umbrella (U). A Pixar short, it's reminiscent of Disney's much earlier Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet. The rain comes down and a blue umbrella falls for a red umbrella, then gets blown away in the wind. But rescue is at hand...

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Technicolor.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Jul 2013