Monsters at Work Review: Disney+ Delivers a Hilarious and Worthy Monsters, Inc. Successor
Two full decades after introducing moviegoers to scaring experts Mike and Sully, Disney is taking fans back to the world of Monsters, Inc. to continue the beloved story. Yes, Pixar did release a (very underrated) prequel in the form of 2013's Monsters University, but the new Disney+ TV series, Monsters at Work, actually picks up right where Monsters, Inc. left off, advancing the story past the original film for the very first time. The new series, which arrives on Disney+ on July 7th, does an excellent job of recapturing the spirit of the original movie while creating something unique and exciting for the franchise that fits in this era of Disney streaming TV.
Monsters at Work begins right after the events of Monsters, Inc. — literally just one day later. A Monsters University student named Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman) is the most promising scarer to come through the school since James P. Sullivan, and he's potentially even better. He gets an offer from Waternoose to come work for him at Monsters, Inc. as a scarer right out of college. As fans of the original movie know, however, Waternoose is no longer in charge of the company.
After Mike and Sully discovered, through Boo's help, that the laughs of children are even more effective than their screams, Monsters, Inc. pivoted overnight. That's a fun and uplifting idea for the end of a family film, but have you ever stopped to think about the implications of a change in direction that sharp for any company, especially that quickly? That's the idea that Monsters at Work explores, and it's one that provides a lot of great layers for adults watching with their kids.
Mike and Sully, once again voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman, have taken over for Waternoose and are now charged with bringing their new vision for Monsters, Inc. to life. They're trying to turn scarers into comedians and keep up the city's energy supply simultaneously. It's a tough balancing act for our beloved heroes, but it gives the duo a reason to stay in the picture even though Monsters at Work isn't really about them.
With this new role, Monsters at Work is able to achieve a perfect balance between satisfying fans of the movies and creating something brand new for another generation. Mike and Sully have a significant part to play, but they're also not the stars of the show. They have been designated to supporting roles, keeping Crystal and Goodman from committing too much time to the recording booth in their later years. However, putting them in charge of the company allows them to remain a very significant part of the story, and it offers plenty of opportunity for the two comedy icons voicing them to flex their talents.
It's Tylor that takes over as the lead character for the Monsters franchise in this series, and Feldman does a wonderful job with the fish-out-of-water character. See, Tylor arrives at Monsters, Inc. the day after the events of the first movie, holding a letter that says he's been hired as a scarer. Since there are no scarers anymore, and Tylor hasn't really spent any time practicing his comedy, he is sent to work in the facilities department. There, he gets the opportunity to work with an eclectic and very lovable group of misfits, voiced by incredible performers like Mindy Kaling and Henry Winkler.
Tylor's journey is what Monsters at Work hinges on, because it's easy to understand his pain upon arriving at the company. Imagine working your whole life for something, landing the job you've always dreamed of, and showing up for your first day of work only to be told that your entire career field has been eliminated from existence. But Tylor fights through the adversity, determined to make it to the newly-established Laugh Floor, continuing the confident and jovial spirit of Mike and Sully that fans have come to love.
Monsters at Work is a wonderful addition to the Monstroplis mythos. It's filled with plenty of laughs and memorable new characters that are sure to excite fans new and old. But there's also a determined and vibrant heart at its center, keeping true to the wonderful soul of the Monsters name.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Monsters at Work will premiere on Disney+ on July 7th.