Everytime I am in the need for some good inspiration, Monsters University (MU) never fails to blow my mind away. Apart from the colourful array of Monsters, there is something really important to be learned from here.
When I first watched it, I was on the brink of my A-levels. And now, I am finally in University!!! In the midst of the terrible Finals, I decided to drop the books, put this baby into the DVD player, and I felt inclined to write about it today.
Monsters University… What a catchy name. It is a tale of self-discovery, chasing your dreams and not letting anyone define who who are. The 2 main characters in this tale would be none other than our favourite duo James Sullivan and Mike Wazaowksi. Mike takes centre stage in this tale. In the beginning, we see into the glimpse of his childhood. Initially, I was expecting Mike to be a likeable, popular fellow, but the twist was that he was rather unpopular. He was rather small, so people missed him out. He was an insignificant being in the Monster World. It rolled out the scene of him sneaking into the scare floor and observing a Scarer at work. It tugged my heartstrings when his peers said: ‘You don’t belong on the Scare Floor‘ when he had voiced out his ambitions. Perhaps all these Factors inspired him to chase his dream to get into Monsters University. No matter how they criticise you, if you really have a will, nothing can stop you.
As I watch it now, I can really relate as to how MU depicted Campus Life. When Mike first steps into school, the whole place is full of energy. They really depicted how it feels like to be on campus, from the sheer varieties of people, to the overenthusiastic seniors welcoming you and ushering you into school, giving tours of the place. In my own campus, I personally went for some of these tours, and unlike Mike, I still got lost on my first day. Haha. I’m sure my fellow friends who stay-in on campus would understand the Room-mate scenes, where Mike stays in with fellow Scare Major Randall Boggs (who turned out to be quite a jerk I must say haha). I could relate to the whole orientation, though in my own university, orientation was way longer, and much wilder. (In fact I must disclose that my orientation was in the form of a camp…which was 6 days long. Haha).
Mike then explores the lovely campus, with the Scare School in full glory. I get that feeling when you first step into university, and EVERYTHING seems within your reach. It seems exciting. The vast number of clubs you can join, the fraternity houses, and the Sorority Parties and such. In his first scare class, he meets his then nemesis, James P. Sullivan. I finally understand what the movie meant by Scare Major. Major is in fact the course you opt to specialise in… I finally get it, and it rings bells for all university students out there. That’s another beauty about this movie: It is RELATABLE.
Over the course of time we see the ambitious Mike trying to prove to everyone that he is the best, with him trying to outdo Sullivan, who cruised through everything. We see two distinct characters here. Mike, the Striver. And Sullivan, the Player. Sullivan cruised through the school life, being popular immediately after starting school, and getting into the top Fraternity, Roar Omega Roar. He carried a name that was respected in the Scare Faculty, and even the professor took a liking to him. Mike was a hard worker, studying and working all the time in order to impress everyone. He scored well in his tests, and was the rather annoying Know It All. When the day of the Finals came, everything changed.
Sullivan was demoted from Hero to Zero when he accidentally tipped over Dean Hardscrabble’s Scare Can. Mike was kicked out merely because he did not look scary. So let me point this to you… Have you ever felt like that? I sure have. It’s that moment where you strive to prove it, but actually you lack the quality of it at all, and no hard work can replace that.
Mike was losing all hope, till he stumbled upon something: The Scare Games! It was a series of games that determined the best scarers in school. Dean Hardscabble made a deal with Mike, saying that if he won, the whole team would be able to get into the Scare Programme. If he lost, he would be kicked out of campus. In desperation, he pulled in the most unlikely fellows, Oozma Kappa (OK) , and James P. Sullivan also joined his cause. It was a hard group to coordinate. OK was a group of jolly, goody-too-shoe fellows that were perhaps, the least popular on campus. In the eyes of many, they were not scare material. Mike and Sullivan tried to take the winning upon themselves, and the group had a shaky start. With the 2 alpha males Mike and Sullivan always competing to dominate the group, the group OK almost got kicked out. By sheer fortune, they scraped through the first few rounds. It then dawned on them that they needed to work together to win this game.
Another part that got to me was the humiliation they had received. OK was made fun of by the Top Fraternity, Roar Omega Roar. They were pulled into a Party, which turned into a nightmare when the organisers had duped them into coming and pulling a cruel prank that was made into a widespread joke of the whole school. Yet, this scene had also shown Mike’s endless perseverance into continuing inspiring other people to keep trying.
Mike then led the team to victory in the Scare Games, with his encouragement. Herein lies the twist in the story. In the last round of the scare games, Sullivan lost confidence that Mike would be able to pull the game off, and cheated. Though OK won, it was due to Sullivan’s interference. Enraged, Mike decides to prove to everyone that he was worth it, and a good scarer. He broke into the labs and went into the Human World, putting the whole school into an uproar. There, Mike faced the bitter truth: He was not Scary. No matter how hard he tried.
Another scene that got to me was the scene where Mike and Sullivan were at the lake in the Human World. They were hiding away from the children and Police Officers trying to track them down. There, Mike goes into an emotional uproar, about not being good enough, no matter how hard he tried. As Sullivan tries to comfort him of his failure, Mike explains that Sullivan would never understand. Sullivan reveals his fears to Mike, and that he was a failure in his own terms. Both of them had a mutual sharing, and it was this turning point that made them friends. It also showed me that everyone has their own side of the story. We may seem different, but we all struggle in our own failures. Someone else may not understand what we go through, but someone else would be facing something else that we may not understand either. So be kind. Everyone has their own fight.
They manage to pull off a feat of scaring adults, powering up the door and returning back to the Monster World unscathed. Unfortunately, both of them were expelled. However, Mike and Sullivan left in peace, as the journey had not only forged friendships, but made a whole group grow together. It is interesting to note that the team’s name is OK… It is like the word “okay”. It links to Mike’s bittersweet statement of “I’m okay with just being okay”. It is a little sad, but also reminds us that some dreams, and feats, are not meant to be. We may not have it in our blood. But another lesson is to use your own strengths to your advantage. Not everyone is cut out for the same things. One person may be good at sports, another arts, and yet another in helping other people. We all have our own journey. And we should not call ourselves failures because of that, and come to terms with some things that we were not cut out for.
This is really apt for me, since it does remind me that I have my own path to take, and it does not matter whether I can’t manage in some things. I am build for other things, and there is bound to be a place where I can belong and shine. In my failures, I know that the effort and the journey counts. And that’s what matters. This movie is really one of the best animations I have seen, hands down.
So, I hope you all are ‘properly’ inspired as well. I will return to my Study Chair, with renewed inspiration. 🙂