Monsters University Is Actually Revenge of the Nerds

Nerd alert!
Nerd alert!

In spite of providing Pixar with the second best weekend in the history of the company, Monsters University is yet another underwhelming effort from the once infallible animation powerhouse. Following the inconsequential Cars 2 and Brave, Monsters U is at least entertaining for those under 12 years old. Adults however will recognize a number of similarities with the trashy Eighties classic Revenge of the Nerds. Minus all the gratuitous nudity.

The following plot description applies perfectly to both films: “At a university campus, a group of bullied outcasts and misfits resolver to fight back for their peace and self respect.” Mike Wazowski (the little green monster) is in every respect the equivalent of Lewis Skolnick: Deluded to the point of insanity, Mike stands against teachers and alumni who believe he couldn’t scare a small child. Unable to join the most coveted fraternity, Mike lands in an under populated, peripheral brotherhood and takes it to the top by beating the jocks in their own games.

The one aspect they differ actually favors Revenge of the Nerds. Lewis and co. stay in college, while Monsters U celebrates dropping out. How is that for wholesome entertainment.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.

3 thoughts on “Monsters University Is Actually Revenge of the Nerds”

  1. Ugh, Revenge of the Nerds is a horrible, horrible film. The treatment of women by the so-called “heroes” is absolutely disgusting: installing surveillance equipment in their home, using the product of said surveillance for gain, and — most disturbingly — raping a woman by pretending to be her boyfriend. Between that and the “black people are scary” tone to the nerds’ interactions with Lambda Lambda Lambda, the movie completely undermines its own pro-diversity message. Ick! I can’t believe I enjoyed it as a child.

  2. The following plot description applies perfectly to both “Hotel Rwanda” and “Schindler’s List”: “A flawed but kind-hearted businessman risks everything he has to save a large group of individuals from the mass genocide being committed by his own people.” The point is, claims of unoriginality are often exaggerated, and often unwarranted. A good film is always original/contains original elements even if it might not seem like that on the surface (eg, Schindler’s List vs Hotel Rwanda).

    For this reason, while you are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, I think your use of the “unoriginality” argument here is unfair, and in my opinion, you’re giving this film less credit than it deserves. In fact, the very thing you cite as the “only” difference between the two films serves as one of the main strengths of “Monsters University” that contributed to my perception of it as an excellent movie: its clear message about the inevitability of failure and how we can realistically cope with such failures using the diversity of our talents; this was wonderfully executed, in my opinion, and is a risk that other studios like Dreamworks and Blue Sky could likely only dream of taking (although these studios, thankfully, are starting to learn from their past mistakes). The message isn’t that it’s good to drop out for no reason; it’s that it doesn’t always work out.

    Regarding Pixar, in my humble opinion, “Cars 2” is their only mediocre effort. Apart from that, I think all their other films are absolutely brilliant. Also, while I don’t doubt that there are people who genuinely dislike “Cars 2”, “Brave”, and “Monsters University” (art is subjective, after all), I’m convinced upon reading those reviews (not necessarily yours) that most of these “negative” criticisms are simply the result of Pixar being the victim of its own brilliance and the weight of the sky-high expectations they’ve set. Nothing necessarily wrong with that because it’s part of human nature to “expect”, but personally, I try to not let my own expectations influence my viewing of a film so I can see it for what it is, not what I expect it to be (or, more accurately speaking, in a rating system, I try not to put my “Neutral” rating at the same level as my expectations).

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