MonstersUniversitycoverGrade:  B+
Entire family:  Yes
2013, 104 min., Color
Rated G
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen
Featured audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Includes: 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Bonus features: B+

If I were a parent with small children who loved Disney movies (and I was, until they got older), I’d be concerned with an animated feature titled Monsters University—especially when trailers seem to emphasize frat parties and pranks.

But Monsters University is pretty tame by any college standards—even BYU or Wheaton. The core of this prequel is a monster version of Greek Games, with contests to determine whether Mike (Billy Crystal), Sulley (John Goodman), and their brothers at Oozma Kappa can continue in the scarers program or not. It’s like an animated Revenge of the Nerds, but without the vulgarity and compromising situations.

Monsters University isn’t as strong of a film as Monsters, Inc., but it does give you a good sense of how Mike (a one-eyed green monster who’s shaped like a bowling ball with tiny arms and legs) and Sulley (an imposing furry creature with horns) met, how they became best friends, and how they came to work for Monsters, Inc.

But while Monsters, Inc. was an inventive feature, this prequel relies on the tried-and-true format of a contest. That means a hefty burden is placed on the art designers and animators. And they rise to the occasion. Hey, it’s Disney-Pixar. Creating worlds and populating them with fun details is what they do best. 

From little Mikey, who’s as cute wearing braces as one of those balls you pop on your car antenna, to facets of college life that get the animated treatment, there’s plenty here to hold your attention. At first the characters from Oozma Kappa struck me as being lackluster, but they grow on you—especially Don Carlton (Joel Murray), a non-traditional older student who keeps handing out business cards, and Terri/Terry Perry (Sean Hayes, Dave Foley), a two-headed monster with two different mindsets.

MonstersUniversityscreenThis outing, you see how the slithering Randy Boggs (Steve Buscemi) becomes the guys’ sworn enemy, and a few big names jump onboard—like Helen Mirren, who gives voice to the scary Dean Abigail Hardscrabble; Alfred Molina, who plays Professor Knight; and Nathan Fillion, who turns up as the boisterous president of rival Roar Omega Roar fraternity. Pixar’s good-luck charm, John Ratzenberger, has a walk-across as The Abominable Snowman

If you’re like me, the price difference between Blu-ray combo packs and 3D Blu-ray combo packs is so negligible that you might be tempted to buy the 3D, even if you don’t have it yet, just to hedge your bets. Maybe you’ll get it some day, and when that day comes, you’ll have plenty of discs to watch. In this case, you’ll have one of the best 3D presentations of 2013. As great as “Monsters University” looks in Blu-ray, in 3D Blu-ray it’s pretty spectacular. You might as well get the 3D combo pack now.

Monsters University is rated G and has a runtime of 104 minutes.