“Wish I had pockets”, sighs Mike Wazowski, with a heartbreaking grin. He’s beginning his journey towards realising that Jiminy Cricket lied: when you wish upon a star, your dreams don’t always come true.
Pixar fans might wish the digital animators had bottomless pockets of Toy Story-level inspiration, too. But, just as friendship soothes Mike’s spirit, so Pixar’s slight (temporary?) slip from former heights is softened by the studio’s loving hands.
Here, familiarity is both a burden and a benefit. You don’t need five eyes to spot Pixar’s borrowings from campus-coms, Harry Potter and Planes, Trains And Automobiles for the story of Mike’s burgeoning bromance with blue fur mountain James P Sullivan.
And for a studio formerly devoted to staking new digimation ground with each film, moving backwards for a prequel sets alarm bells ringing.
But it’s easy to re-embrace Mike and Sulley, especially when Billy Crystal and John Goodman – often vocalising in the same studio – parry so well together. That kind of attention to detail hoists Dan Scanlon’s prequel up a grade, then several more with the best monster menagerie since Frankenweenie.
And if the details are never quite lent a plot fresh enough to equal the tentacular twists of Monsters, Inc., at least the fun keeps flowing. So what if Mike comes up short when it comes to scaring? As Inc. taught us, laughs also harbour power. With that in mind, Mike’s hard-learned life lesson doesn’t look so bad after all.
DVD extras comprise a chat track and ace photorealistic short The Blue Umbrella, while Blu-ray adds multiple featurettes and deleted scenes.
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