Rah, rah, rah! Give a cheer for this Revenge of the Nerds remake with monsters! OK, it's not exactly that, but Pixar's prequel to Monsters, Inc. does evoke college comedies like Nerds, Animal House, Old School and others.
Tiny, ambitious Mike (Billy Crystal) and hulking hotshot Sulley (John Goodman) butt heads during their freshman year at MU and get kicked out of the school's elite Scare Program. To win their way back in, they and their misfit fraternity bros, the Oozma Kappas, have to take top prize at The Scare Games. Do you wanna be Big Beast on Campus? Show your MU spirit by checking out these 5 frightfully fun facts:
Digital Makeovers Are Better Than Botox: Pixar's animators struggled with how to make well-known characters Sulley and Mike look appropriately younger. They decided to shorten Sulley's horns, brighten his eyes, make him thinner, and add an unruly tuft of teenage hair—beastly bedhead! For Mike, they studied how frogs age and then gave the green guy a smoother, slimmer look. But it wasn't enough, so they added a retainer to his teeth. Who knew monsters needed braces?
The Queen of Creepy: Dame Helen Mirren lends her regal voice to imperious Dean Hardscrabble, head of the Scare School. Hardscrabble is a horrifying but elegant creature with dragon wings and a centipede body. For inspiration, the brave folks at Pixar brought in an Amazonian giant centipede, scolopendra gigantea (say that three times fast), which can reach 12 inches in length and has a toxic bite that's been likened to a gunshot wound. Ugh, we'd be totally buggin'!
Monster Appreciation 101: MU has a bustling campus, populated with nearly 500 different characters. When creating the vast number of creatures, animators worked from six monster archetypes: "Charlies" with eyeballs on eye sticks and tentacles for arms and legs; human-looking "Spiffs" that have a horn for a nose; castle-shaped "Pills" with three eyes and skinny limbs; hulking "Blocks" with square-shaped bodies; and slug-like "Fungus Monsters" that slide along the ground. Yes, this will be on the final exam.
Getting Schooled About Schools: To research the look and layout of Monsters University, the Pixar production team visited several top colleges across the country—from the East Coast (Harvard, MIT) to the West (Stanford, UC Berkley). They soaked up the campus atmosphere, hung out at fraternity houses, and even attended a bonfire event at UC Berkley prior to a big football game against Stanford. No, really, this was homework.
Spooktacular Collaborators: Composer Randy Newman returns for his seventh Pixar collaboration. Past efforts have scored him two Oscar wins for Best Original Song: "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. and "We Belong" from Toy Story 3. Actor John Ratzenberger continues his unbroken Pixar streak, having voiced roles in all their feature films, including Hamm in the Toy Story movies, Mack in both Cars, and Yeti again for Monsters University. These industrious dudes deserve honorary degrees.