The MPAA rating for Monsters University has been announced and surprisingly enough, it's 'G'. Giving such a coming-of-age story set in a university a rating like that may surprise those of us familiar with that bastion of college comedies, Animal House.
So that begs the question: Should Pixar have aimed older with this sequel to their 'monster' hit from 2001?
While the wind is certainly with them as far as anticipation goes, it's disheartening to think that the film's original audience has long since entered the dreaded 'animation age ghetto'. Even the youngest viewers of that film are into their mid-teens and may be quite unlikely to have much interest in seeing a 'G' rated film. Is Pixar losing out on an opportunity to bring such teenagers back into the animation fold? Consider these points:
The original's audience are just at that stage where they are either in, or about to enter, college.
They are unlikely to have forgotten the original's appeal and characters
The target audience for a 'G' rated Monsters University can't comprehend the original Monsters Inc. at all. In fact, the 3-D re-release at the end of 2012 fared much poorer than anticipated indicating a relative lack of familiarity among consumers (in addition to their ambivalence about 3-D.)
Pixar is no stranger to older audiences with The Incredibles, Up and Brave all receiving a PG rating that did their box office performance no discernible harm at all.
Studio Ghibli in Japan willingly release animated films suitable for mature audiences. This could be have been an opportunity for Pixar to make a similar leap with its brand and start to bridge the gap between kids and adults.
Lastly, pretty much everyone knows of the kinds of shenanigans that occur on college campuses and they certainly aren't suitable for all-ages eyes (or ears). That's no reason to go overboard, but plenty of wiggle room exists for jokes and tomfoolery without getting too blue.
What do you think?
Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.