Monday, March 17, 2014

Monsters University

I really like it when trailers give you meaningful insight into the plot of a film. It's something that is extremely helpful in picking out what to see; movie trailers now, on average, are around two and a half minutes in length and usually give viewers the funniest lines, coolest moments, and main plots points of the film. It's annoying. Sometimes. This is why I find it so refreshing when I find a trailer that manages to pique my interest while simultaneously giving me something great to look forward to, but not giving me the greatest parts of the film.

Case in point with one of the trailers that's been around for an animated movie since last summer, Monsters University. 75% of the trailer is basically an "introduction" video; each of the main characters telling us who they are, what they do, what they want to become, things like that. It's insightful, and a way to show audiences the faces of characters that they'll be seeing in the film while actually giving audiences something to work with, but still managing not to give anything important away. The entire trailer gives you pertinent information that a viewer needs in order to make an educated decision on whether or not to see the film, but doesn't ruin the story for you in any way.

I've always thought that this was a great marketing tactic. It usually succeeds, at least, in getting me to do a little more research on the films to learn a bit more about it before I go to see them. This trailer did exactly that for me. Monsters University is a prequel to the 2001 animated Pixar film, Monsters, Inc., which was written and directed by Pete Docter. The plot summary, in one sentence via IMDB, is this: "A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University -- when they weren't necessarily the best of friends." Ok, now you've really got my attention. Haven't Mike and Sulley always been friends?

The company behind the film, Pixar Animation Studios (which--fun fact--originally only catered to American government agencies and the medical profession) is the same company behind Up and the Toy Story series, two really great--and kind of emotional--animated projects. The director, Dan Scanlon, has worked as an animator on Joseph: King of Dreams and The Indescribable Nth. He also worked as a storyboard artist for the Pixar film, Cars.

With a cast that includes Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi, I'm glad I went out of my way to see this film last summer. It was certainly one of the best animated movies of 2013. I'm sure you didn't hear it here first.

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