It’s a title no film wants, but many get — oh, to be part of the ‘underrated crowd’. In short, it means a movie has come and gone without gaining the recognition — critically or publicly — it deserves. And, of course, the title of most underrated is totally subjective.
The go-to contender when it comes to Pixar’s filmography is always A Bug’s Life. And sure, this has been the case for a long time, but now I believe the crown should be placed elsewhere.
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Monsters University, the long-awaited sequel to the 2001 hit Monsters, Inc. is, in my opinion, Pixar’s most underrated.
A Bug’s Life is a great film, there’s no disputing that — it simply didn’t do as well as expected on the back of their Toy Story debut. Monsters University did do pretty well, taking into account inflation 15 years later — Bugs was released in ‘98; MU only last year — having scooped a more than respectable $744 million.
Yet I feel MU is massively stigmatised. My initial reaction to it, having viewed prior to release, was hugely positive. It was funny, felt familiar, had got a great structure, a solid story and message, and it looked fantastic.
So why the shrugging of the shoulders whenever I ask what people thought of it?
The thing I believe people disliked was a) it was a sequel, and b) it wasn’t anything groundbreaking, a la WALL-E. But I don’t believe there has to be a wacky, inventive or super original premise for a film to be great; something about MU simply didn’t sit well with a lot of people I spoke to.
Even a second or third revisit is still hugely rewarding, with Pixar hitting high notes with the comedy, but also with the really great characters and touching story. In fact, the story arc was probably the strongest aspect of the film.
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So I’d urge you, if you’re an MU hater or shoulder-shrugger, to reassess it. It’s not got that ‘wow’ factor like some of Pixar’s classics do, but it looks gorgeous and has a rich, compelling and rather meaningful message in there.
Do you reckon Monsters University is Pixar’s most underrated film, too?