[FILM] Monsters University Vs Despicable Me 2

Both of these animated children’s films hit our screens at approximately the same time, did battle cartoon-style to win over our hearts and attempted to emerge victorious in the ratings wars. With Despicable Me 2 raking in a cool 100 million spondoolies more than Monsters University, I decided to go old-fashioned on these stuffed toy selling behemoth franchises. Compare and contrast, mofos. It’s like being back at school, though this is a lot less technical and much more fun.

Monsters University - Poster

Monsters University

For Monsters University we take a trip back in time to, yeah, you guessed it, our favourite scarers’ college days. Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James “Sully” Sullivan (John Goodman) are both students in the scare program. The former is the book-smart, ambitious goody-goody who has deluded himself into believing he is actually scary, and the latter is the lazy, party-boy jock who, while genuinely is a natural scarer, plans to coast through with his one go-to scare move. Initially they both annoyed the crap out of each other. To be honest, they both kind of annoyed me too.

In the end, of course, they overcome their differences to become the unstoppable duo and bestest pals that we met back in Monsters, Inc., but not without the bumpy, sometimes unnecessary ride of all that came in-between. The pacing of Monsters University and the overall layout felt somewhat stuffed. The story followed a confusing route that left me bewildered, and I’m a full-grown adult. It was a series of, “do this to undo that, then do this to undo the damage that the second do did to undo the first thing you needed to undo”. Does that make sense? No? That’s basically how I felt when I was watching it.

As always though, our voice actors delivered splendidly. In general Billy Crystal’s voice bugs me, but he really is perfect for his role as Mike, the lime-green beach ball. John Goodman was always a fantastic choice for Sully, so much so that whenever I hear him outside of the Monsters franchise my mind immediately conjures up the image of the blue haired, horned and lantern-jawed beast. Steve Buscemi lends his voice once again to Randall “Randy” Boggs, giving a little backstory to the origin of one of the creepiest scarers in the films. Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble was inspired too, the combination of her voice and the animation of this particularly intimidating scaring legend created a genuinely ominous atmosphere. Nathan Fillion as the resident elitist fraternity brother managed to coax a chuckle or two from me, but on the whole the majority of laughs (when there were laughs to be had) came from the merry band of monster misfits that Mike and Sully were forced to team up with in order to secure their places in the scare program.

In parts I felt a little bored and was disappointed overall. The animation was beautiful and of a standard we’ve come to expect and possibly take for granted, but Monsters University is nowhere near as good as the original, and even though I wasn’t expecting it to be, it still came across as being a little pointless.

IMDB Rating: 7.4
Do I agree?: I couldn’t go any higher than a 6.5.

Despicable Me 2 - Poster

Despicable Me 2

I’ll be straight up. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Despicable Me. I thought they got lucky because the minions were hilarious. Also, if you’ll try to cast your memory that far back (it’s hard, I know) you may recall another animated gem that was released at the same time. Megamind. Kind of fell by the wayside, didn’t it? I thought that was much better than Despicable Me. Perhaps it’s because of what Will Ferrell brought to the project, or perhaps it’s more my particular brand of comedy, but I really enjoyed it. I’m pretty sure I have it somewhere too, I should re-watch that.

Anyway, back on topic. I was worried that Despicable Me 2 would capitalise on the success of the original by bombarding us with mumbling minion after minion. I need not have been so concerned though, because the creators managed to strike the perfect balance. Knowing that the little yellow fellows are primarily what everyone wants to see, they gave us enough of their madness to giggle over, but not so much that the story spiraled into complete mayhem.

Gru (Steve Carell), who is still the doting father to his three adopted daughters, has been recruited by the AVL (The Anti-Villain League) to find and stop a super villain who has stolen a secret formula that turns fluffy bunnies into fluffier man-eating monsters. He’s been teamed up with Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), and together they go undercover at a mall in attempt to sniff out the villain responsible. Naturally everything goes awry, and Gru is forced to deal with his trusted accomplice Dr. Nefario’s (Russell Brand) leave of absence, his eldest daughter Margo’s (Miranda Cosgrove) new-found interest in dating boys and his unexpected feelings for quirkly AVL agent Lucy.

I haven’t laughed as much at a Steve Carell performance since his stint as Brick in Anchorman, and I still haven’t found out what exact accent that is he’s putting on, but it’s lulzy all the same. Kristen Wiig was great as Lucy and the kids were as adorable as ever. Benjamin Bratt as “El Macho” tickled a funny bone or two also, but to be fair, that character was more than a little stereotypical, and if this film wasn’t presented as such a wacky comedy I might be dubbing it borderline racist. Ethnic comedy, huh?

On the whole, I really enjoyed this one. It was a formulaic story, but it worked and the result was entertainment far superior to that of Monsters University. And so, for me, despite the first-rate and flawless animation from Pixar, for this particular bout I declare Despicable Me 2 the animated victor.

IMDB Rating: 7.5
Do I agree?: With so many minion musical numbers, how could I not?

What did you think of both Monsters University and Despicable Me 2? Let me know who you crowned as your victor in the comments below!

V Does DVD Releases (October) 7/13.
V Does DVD Releases (December) 3/12.
 
 
 


Categories: Film, Review

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89 replies

  1. I actually prefer hmm I don’t know, I liked both but I find it difficult to compare them. Good post :D

    • It would have been a lot harder if Monsters University hadn’t annoyed me as much as it did… Maybe I was particularly susceptible to irritations that day. Or maybe it was just annoying. :D Cheers Tim.

  2. In general I agree. Despicable Me 2 is better than Monster’s University, the latter of which is bit disappointing.

    I don’t think the gap as wide as you do, though.

  3. Spondoolies, you say?? : )

    I haven’t seen either one yet… I will though!

    Great work!

  4. I haven’t seen MU, nor was I tempted. Despicable Me 2? Yes, I watched it. Hubby and I enjoyed it enough to ask my next door neighbor (who has children) if they had the 1st one on BluRay so we could watch it. ;-)

  5. Haven’t seen DM2 but just watched Monsters U again with my kid and I love everything about it. Didn’t find anyone annoying at all. Except I still can’t figure out how Sully cheated without being seen.

    • Yeah, bit of a plot hole there. Although not sure what young child would notice that. You must have lots of patience Brian, you obviously had more than me! Maybe if I had kids I’d enjoy it more. Although my friend’s son is obsessed with Cars, and I hate it, even when I’m watching it with him.

  6. I thought this was a pretty down year for animated movies in general, and while I don’t think MU is better than MInc., I did have it higher than Despicable Me 2. I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood for it or what, but I didn’t feel like there was anything new or unexpected to it. The minions are funny, sure, but this one overloaded us with them. I thought MU gave us a lot more versatility and depth of the established characters. I thought the ending was perfect and relatable. I actually had MU as the best this year, Frozen no. 2, and a toss-up between Turbo and Despicable Me 2 for third. Good post, V. I like the comparisons.

    • Thanks Gene! I haven’t seen Frozen yet myself but I’ve heard really nothing but positive things and primarily glowing reviews. As a Disney fan (usually) I’m looking forward to seeing it. And you definitely have to be in the mood to watch certain movies, I find myself in that predicament often. Watching alone or watching with someone else can change things too. The ending of MU, while relatable indeed (we all have to work to get to where we want to be, after all), I felt rendered the entire film rather moot and pointless. Then again I guess you can argue that it’s the journey that mattered here, not the destination.

  7. Nice animated showdown here, V! I haven’t seen Monsters University, but I did see Despicable Me 2. Pretty darn cute. And that minion boyband spoof…WIN.

  8. I’m with you V, Despicable Me 2 was much more enjoyable than the first one. Everyone raved about it but It never captured my imagination. This one was decent though!

  9. I haven’t watched Monsters University, but I did like Despicable Me 2 much, and from what I have heard from around here, I would feel that the latter is far ahead :)

  10. Teehee this is a cool little idea. I, for one, am kind of ashamed I have seen as few animated movies in the years since I”ve had my page open. Yet I’m not surprised at all I missed these two, they never really grabbed my interest and Monsters, Inc. didn’t speak to me from the get-go. However I need to remedy my lack of posts on animated films. They are great little escapes from reality

    • They are Tom, not all of them, but there are some gems out there. I’m usually a little hesitant when it comes to them myself and I’ll steadfastly avoid anything with too much of a “message” if you get me, but sometimes they can hold the right combination of magic, wonder and chuckles that cheers me up instantly. ;D

      That and I’m still a child.

  11. Out of these two I’d also prefer to watch DP2 again, the minions are hilarious. Have you also seen the shorts with them? Hilarious.

  12. I haven’t watched either as I am not fond of CG animated movies. I am however curious about what would happen if you administered the secret formula to a bunny girl.

  13. Not seen either so my opinion is WORTHLESS!

  14. Very interesting reviews
    Much of what you said surprised me. I actually really enjoyed “Monster University” & I think part of the reason why you “…felt a little bored and was disappointed overall” was because THE STAKES just weren’t there…
    You know Sully & Mike are going to make it MONSTERS INC with or without college, they’re gonna be best friends, & Boo isn’t in danger (cuz she doesn’t even exist yet), SO it’s more-or-less a ‘side quest’; thus, our appreciation & enjoyment for the film relies solely on relating to the main characters and ‘the big set pieces.’
    Hit me with your thoughts V!
    I should also add my expectations were already below sea-level for ‘University’ just because I found the trailers for the film to be really lame which also affected my viewing

    • Exactly, I think that’s why I referred to it as a “little pointless” in my review. Don’t get me wrong, I love some backstory usually, and it won’t matter if I know who is going to live or die by the end of it as long as the story is engaging and the characters are interesting. Didn’t think Monsters University had an engaging story or interesting characters if I’m honest! It worked well the first time around with Monsters Inc but this was all just a bit irrelevant for me.

      Trailers can totally mess with your expectations and perceptions. I went in with high enough expectations because I hadn’t seen a trailer and because so many people thought Monsters University was great. Also, mood plays a huge factor too. I guess I just wasn’t in the humour to be “preached” at, and I must have found MU to be a little preachy!

      • Vee, you’re awesome
        I’m keep this short & sweet (much like ourselves), and say I totally get where you’re coming from & I think if I’d gone into the movie just like you with high enough expectations, I probably wouldn’t have liked it very much either.
        And like I said, I HATED the trailers & advertising for it which is why I didn’t see it in theaters over the summer…but I don’t know what the hell happened cuz I watched it a few months back & I really liked it (I’M SORRY VEE!!!!!)
        Until “FINDING DORY” then :P

  15. I can’t wait to see Despicable Me 2!! I’ve wanted to see that since it first came out. Thanks for sharing this!

  16. I am extremely disappointed to hear that Monsters was basically a flop. My wife adored the first one (it is her go to for feel-good-ness). I was never personally a fan of the first Despicable Me, but you hit the minions on the head. Might be worth a few yucks.

    • I’d wager she may yet adore Monsters University too, Jon! It has more allegory than Monsters Inc, though is not as subtle or as charming with its use in my opinion. As for Despicable Me 2, is was certainly worth a few yucks, though I’d wager your sides will escape being split. Mostly. ;)

  17. Despicable Me is the last on my list! I’m skipping Monsters U because even from the trailers it didn’t appeal to me.

    On a related note, have you noticed how much Gru looks like Dara O’Briain? I think he’s even joked about it, on one of his shows or on Mock the Week, but I can’t find the clip :)

  18. I haven’t seen Despicable Me 2 but I did see Monsters University and it left me feeling pretty “meh”, even for a Pixar movie. I felt the same way about Despicable Me 1 – I felt like the minions were what made the movie. I do still randomly scream “IT’S SO FLUFFY!” so at least it was quotable though, more than I can say for MU.

    • Indeed! “Meh” is the perfect way to sum up how I felt when Monsters University ended. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was missing something important because so many people thought it was fantastic. Maybe it’s inner cynicism? Who knows. But yes, Despicable Me is a hell of a lot more quotable. I can’t remember a single line from Monsters University.

  19. I didn’t watch Monsters U, but the Despicable Me really didn’t hit me that hard as I hoped it would. With all the hype going around during the months when they were screening. Didn’t catch on with the Minions thing either; they were cute, but seeing and hearing their references outside of the cinema felt intrusively unneeded. But for the record, I think it’s the best non-disney/pixar animated film out there.

    Would also love to hear about what you think of Disney’s latest hit – Frozen. I believe its going to stop screening in cinemas soon ):

    • I can understand why, those minions were pretty much everywhere for months. People had them on their phones as ringtones. Madness! I’m going to catch Frozen early this evening, really looking forward to it. :)

  20. Like this post.

    I think the problem with MONSTERS is that it goes for the obvious … if we sat around the table for long enough, we would churn out the same (or maybe better) fraternity humour, based on films that we have seen. DESPICABLE ME is much more inventive.

    • Yes, that’s a very good point. Monsters has nothing we haven’t seen before and is obvious, exactly as you say. There’s nothing interesting, new or unpredictable about it, whereas Despicable Me is certainly different and entertains us in new ways.

  21. Hi V! I love the minions but I still rate Monsters University higher as Pixar’s always good at making their stories relatable no matter what the characters are, toys, monsters, etc. I like the themes of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, etc. that the movie explored, but yet still made it so darn entertaining! Despicable Me movies are entertaining too, but much more frivolous in my opinion. But hey, they’re both fun to watch :)

    • I do agree that Pixar have it sussed when it comes to exploring those issues through their stories, and especially liked the highly relatable and useful lessons for children (and adults!) throughout the Toy Story trilogy. Monsters University I guess just felt a little contrived to me, but that’s probably my inner cynic talking! You’re right though, they’re both a lot of fun, which is an absolute must for children’s animation.

  22. I saw both of these movies with my four-year-old daughter, who loved Despicable Me going into the screening. She enjoyed both of them, and I’d say that each has its charms. I had a bit more fun with Monsters University due to all its callbacks to films like Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. Despicable Me 2 was so focused on the minions. I think the big reason DM 2 made more money is that its original was so recent. There aren’t as many kids watching Monsters Inc. regularly since it came out a while ago.

    • Yes there were definite throwback elements to older, more adult films in Monsters University. A fellow blogger made the comment that it was almost like Oldschool for kids. You also make a good point about the timeline; Monsters U was released ten years (I think) after Monsters, Inc., which definitely wouldn’t have helped their case. Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment, Dan!

  23. Hello there! Nice article, though to be honest I felt Monsters University was the better film as I came out of the cinema with less complaints than I did with Despicable Me 2. Neither of them are bad, it’s just I had a little more love for MU than DM2. If you like you can check out my reviews for them and see where I’m coming from. But anyway, slightly disagree with you on MU, but overall good reviews. :)

  24. Need to see both, especially DM2!

  25. I really enjoyed MU, thought it was a bunch of fun. Haven’t seen DM though, although I’ve not seen the first either. That might be a better starting point.

    • Haha yes, start at the start is definitely good advice! I can imagine how hyper DM2 would come across if you hadn’t seen the first one. Would be curious to learn what you think of it actually!

  26. Watched DM2 this weekend with the kids. They absolutely enjoyed it. I have to admit, I thought it was good.

  27. I honestly enjoyed Despicable Me 2 more then I did Frozen. Monsters U was boring as hell and i’m glad my kids thought so too so I wouldn’t have to take them to see it twice :].

    • LOL! I actually felt the same way. Although I really liked Frozen, I’m not sure I’d put it in my top 5 animations. Or top 10 even? That’s a good idea for a post actually. But yes, glad we’re in agreement, DM2 > MU for sure.

      • Frozen just had too much singing in it for me to say that I like it more then DM2. DM2 had some singing but it also had it’s fair share of action sequences as well as those funny ass minions of his so it all balanced out.

        • Frozen was a lot like a Broadway Musical, wasn’t it? Randomly bursting into unexpected songs at weird times. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney songs, and they’re usually an integral part of the films, but is it just me or did the musical numbers in Disney flicks used to feel more natural?

          • They felt a lot more natural in older Disney Movies. I think Tangled had better songs then Frozen to be honest. Movies like Mulan, and Hunchback both had amazing soundtracks that felt natural to the movie while Frozen was all over the place. And yes Frozen did feel like a Broadway Musical at times :]

            • Yes! Mulan and the Hunchback were musically much more appealing to me. I’m glad I’m not the only one, because I was worrying that I was just being a grumpy old fart. I liked one of the Frozen songs, I actually can’t remember what it was called, but it wasn’t so bad. Still, not a patch on the earlier Disney stuff.

  28. Monsters University was okay, nothing special. I wouldn’t watch it again. I think the main problem was it being a prequel, we kinda knew how everything would end. If you get what I mean?

    • Yes I definitely get you. Nothing was going to surprise us, we knew how it would end. How they got there was supposed to be the draw of the story, but it was just so predictable. Agree with you, was okay, but wouldn’t watch it again.

  29. Haven’t seen either one of these, unfortunately.
    Man, I need to get out more…

  30. Agree. DM2 was much better than MU.

    Father of three. Love these sorts of movies.

  31. Excellent post!! Sorry I missed it. I’m a HUGE fan of Pixar & the first Despicable Me so couldn’t wait to see both of these. You’re right – DM2 is the superior film, which was surprising as nothing beats Pixar for me. You really can’t top Monsters Inc, though – MU was never going to be as good. Do you really not LOVE the first Despicable Me? : ) I think it’s brilliant! The only non-Pixar & non-Disney film that I love.

    • I liked it! Though I thought Megamind was better at the time. :D Definitely though, DM2 was the winner here for me. I’m with you on Pixar too, normally nothing beats them for me either, so this was a surprise.

  32. Nice post! I enjoyed both of these movies and think Monsters Uni is one of the best of the recent Pixar efforts. But I have to go with Despicable Me 2 – one of those rare sequels that might be better than the original. So funny and loved the World War Z style minions at the end!

    • The ending of DM2 was almost hyper, and that WWZ style scene was hilarious! DM2 was just so uncomplicated, and as such a lovely bit of mindless enjoyment and entertainment. And I definitely agree that it was better than the original. :D

      Thanks for stopping by and for the add, looking forward to having a proper read-through of your blog!

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