By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com June 20, 2012 at 7:21AM
We'd hoped that last year's "Cars 2" was something of a blip on the Pixar track record. A disappointing film, to be sure, made to keep the merchandising behemoth alive (and it doesn't hurt that John Lasseter is an auto-nut), but we figured the studio's near-impeccable run of greatness would swiftly return. But the word on "Brave," which opens this week, has not been encouraging. Most of the reviews, including our own, have suggested that, while it's not as cynical as last year's Pixar entry, it's failed to meet the high standards we've come to expect from the animation giants.
Talk that this is the beginning of the end for Pixar seems terribly hasty. We're certainly excited for Bob Peterson's "The Good Dinosaur," Pete Docter's film set inside the mind, and Lee Unkrich's Dios De Los Muertos project, but most are at least a couple of years away at this point. But despite our love for the original, we're finding it hard to raise the pulse for next year's film, "Monsters University," the prequel to 2001's "Monsters Inc," and the first teaser trailers for the film, which arrived overnight via EW, haven't done an awful lot to change that.
Introduced with a voiceover by Fake James Coburn (the actor, who voiced mentor/villain Henry J. Waternoose in the original, passed away a year after its release), the clip (and the film) follows Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) in their college days, with parties and pranks galore. There are actually four different versions, each with a different Crystal ad-lib when Mike is talking in his sleep, but none are particularly gut-busting; once you've seen one, we wouldn't recommend viewing the others particularly.
It's good to see the characters back on screen, certainly, and Mike-as-mirrorball is pretty funny, but there just seems to be something a little rote and uninspired about the whole endeavor: it's like Pixar's version of "Dumb and Dumberer" or something. And given the minor creative rut that they're in, this may be the first Pixar flick we're actively cautious of. Hopefully we're wrong, and it'll turn out more "Toy Story 3" than "Cars 2" -- we'll find out when the film hits theaters on June 20, 2013.