The first 37 minutes of Monsters University was hilarious

Disney last week was kind enough to invite us to a pre-E3 shindig, in which they showed us sneak peeks at two upcoming movies – Monsters University and The Lone Ranger. As you probably know by now, both of those movies will have prominent roles in the upcoming game Disney Infinity. Each film will have its own playset and coinciding world in the new gaming initiative from Disney Interactive. While we’ll have plenty of coverage of Disney Infinity (and our recent hands-on from the event) throughout the week, for now I’m going to focus on the actual film. That is, after all, what I was most skeptical about heading into the event.

As a fan of the classic Pixar film Monsters Inc., I was naturally worried that a sequel – which is actually set up as a prequel to the original – would tarnish the quality of the original. And while I fully embrace the notion that an original cannot actually be “ruined” by a sequel, I still worry that a sequel won’t live up to my high expectations.  Thankfully, the 37 minutes of Monsters University that I was treated to last night reassured me that I will not be disappointed in Pixar’s latest work. Let’s be honest, this is Pixar we’re talking about; they just do not release bad flicks. The worst Pixar movie is still a better story than Twilight.

As a precaution, I do warn you that the following may contain some spoilers but I will try my best to avoid revealing major plot details.

The story of how Mike and Sully become friends

My favorite part of a sequel setup as a prequel to the original is finding out the background stories of the characters we already know and love. This is easily the most intriguing part of Monsters University as you can see the roots of Mike and Sully’s friendship. Just to be clear, the two do not begin the movie as friends; in fact, they begin as rivals, competing as the top “scariest monster” in the university. However, an unfortunate incident combined with their own individual flaws leads them both to be kicked out of the “Scare” major at the school. Determined to get back in the School of Scare, the two must unite and join a fraternity that isn’t exactly the first choice for either one of them.

Monsters University frat

A hilarious supporting cast

While Mike and Sully are clearly the stars of the film, it was the supporting cast – particularly that of the fraternity they join — that got the most chuckles out of me. As part of the nerdiest frat in the college, these characters have the most potential when it comes to getting laughs. The best part of each of these characters is their innocence; you can’t help but love them – especially when they try to perform an “initiation ceremony.” Yes, there is some paddling involved.

A monster’s creative take on a human world

Pixar’s take on a university in Monsters University is both creative and witty. It does just enough to poke fun at the various elements of a human university. From the hippie guitar player to the over-enthusiastic jock, from Greek life to dorm life, Monsters University will hilariously addresses the stereotypes we’ve all experienced in college. And it does so with such a charming approach.

Can it be better than the original?

I know the original Monsters, Inc. has a soft spot in all of our hearts. It’s the original after all. But I have to say, the beginning 37-minutes of Monsters University definitely gives it a run for its money. Mike is still the loveable dork I remember, but seeing him compete as the scariest monster in the university is a nice, new approach to the character. Sully, on the other hand, enters the university as a “Sullivan,” a well-respected family among campus students for their ability to scare. He’s confident in his abilities, but his arrogance is his biggest flaw. Both characters are both similar, yet intriguingly different than the monsters we saw in the original Monsters, Inc.

Disney Infinity Monsters University playset

But how does it fit in with Disney Infinity

We’ve known for quite a while now that Monsters University would be a playset in Disney Infinity. The universe brought to life in-game from the playset will allow players to interact in the world of Monsters University. You’ll be able to explore the MU campus, take part in a school vs. school prank week, and search for in-game items you can use in the game’s Toy Box, a mode that lets you combine various toys from different Disney IPs into one, single world.

Monsters University certainly has the potential to make you fall back in love with both of these characters, and a whole batch of new ones at the same time. While I thoroughly enjoyed the sneak preview of Monsters University, the bulk of the presentation was dedicated to Disney Interactive’s upcoming initiative Disney Infinity. Be sure to check back throughout the week for our preview of the game and all other E3 2013 news and coverage.