I remember an interview with Brad Bird or somebody top-tier Pixar some years ago, where he explained how project selection works at the company: you are only admitted to a pitch if you can present three stories of which you are equally convinced, and the board will then ask you to defend all three with equal fervour. One might get picked, at least two dumped forever.
I kept imagining what the other two stories were that Dan Scanlon (or whoever has to do that) presented when “Monster University” was chosen: “Toy Story – B Team” (featuring Mr Potatoe)? “Finding Nemo Again After We Already Found Him (but he got somehow lost again)?” Or maybe “Cars 3: More Cars, More ‘Mater”?
Maybe it’s possible to find something interesting in a one-page plot summary for “MU”, but it certainly does not show on screen in the finished product. It is not funny, it has no original elements, it uses the established characters from “Monsters Inc.” in the same way all these direct-to-DVD Disney spinoffs do. By assuming the audience is young (i.e. < 10), and has not formed expectations about Pixar as a brand that stood for original content, stunningly directed, wittily narrated. Maybe those days are over since “Cars 2” committed the sacrilege of a sequel where before there were no sequels. Maybe “MU” actually was intended to be a rushed direct-to-DVD release, milking the cash cow while it still mooohs… Whatever the reason, Pixar is seriously damaging its reputation with this current strategy of not being very particular about script or execution. There is no more “Pixar? Yeah!” in me, but only a “Pixar? Let’s see…”