Monsters University
            Actually, this is the prequel.  The enormously successful “Monsters Inc.” (2001)
starred the voices of John Goodman (as Sullivan) and Billy Crystal (as Mike), which charmed us by showing us monsters that practiced scaring children in their bedrooms, but they had their own phobias, too, and they really weren’t out to hurt anybody, just put a good fright into them for a few seconds.
            The “ Monsters University ” prequel is about Sullivan and Mike going to college to study being a Scarer, except the school, like Hogwarts, is more difficult than you’d expect.  Sullivan is a natural---and a legacy--- and is recruited by the best fraternity, but Mike is just, well, not very intimidating.  He’s short and one-eyed and friendly and smart, but he’s not scary, no matter how hard he tries.  And it doesn’t help that the imposing headmistress, Dean Hardscrabble (the voice of Helen Mirren) doesn’t see how Mike can possibly succeed at her prestigious school.
            What follows is a close approximation of the plot of “The Internship,” just released in the last month, where a couple of oddball guys try to break into an imposing organization against all odds.  They are forced to work with a team of misfits that have managed to not distinguish themselves in any way, but through hard work and team-building, they all rise to the occasion and manage to impress the higher-ups, anyway.
            The difference, of course, with “ Monsters University ” is that it’s designed for kids, not adults.  So we have some slapstick humor and some opportunistic moralizing.  And one point Mike says, “I’ve learned that you don’t have to be the best at everything.  It’s OK to be average.”  Sullivan, of course, then proceeds to deliver a pep talk about exceeding even your own expectations, but I rather liked Mike’s self-permission to not always be about mightily succeeding.  Maybe there’s an important part we’re missing in the highly-competitive kids’ world we’ve all helped establish.  What’s the matter with just being a kid?  What’s the matter with just hanging out and enjoying being with friends?
            But don’t expect this kind of heavy social commentary for very long.  Monsters University ” is designed to be just plain fun for the kids, and it is.  Nothing wrong with that.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas