- “Before they were incorporated, they had to be educated.”
Monsters University is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Dan Scanlon is the director and Kori Rae is the producer. It is the fourteenth film produced by Pixar and is the prequel to 2001's Monsters, Inc. John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger reprising their roles as Sulley, Mike Wazowski, Randall Boggs, Roz and the Yeti, respectively.
The film was released in the US and Spain on June 21, 2013. Despite what was said in the Monsters, Inc. trailer and in the scene when Mike and Sulley were walking to work, the two might've gotten separated during middle school or high school. This marked the first prequel Pixar has ever produced.
The film was accompanied by a short film titled The Blue Umbrella, with a score provided by Jon Brion.
The story starts with 6-year old monster Michael "Mike" Wazowski on a school field trip to Monsters Inc., a scaring company. At Monsters Inc., the class meets Frank McCay, an employee of the company who works as a "scarer", entering the human world to scare children at night and harvesting their screams as energy to power the monster world. As Frank prepares to enter a door to the human world, the children notice that Mike has slipped unnoticed to Frank's door, which he then enters before anyone can stop him. Mike watches Frank's scare performance, then follows him back through the door to the monster world. Frank scolds Mike, but is impressed with his ability to have sneaked quietly in and out of the room, and gives him his Monsters University hat as a souvenir. The teacher reprimands him as well, but Mike is happy and inspired to be a scarer when he grows up.
Approximately eleven years later, Mike is a scare major and is starting his first day at the prestigious Monsters University. On his first day, Mike befriends his roommate, the nerdy and shy Randall "Randy" Boggs, who desires to be popular and has difficulty controlling his camouflage power. During the first class of the scare program, as Mike is answering a question, he is interrupted by another scare student, an arrogant large blue monster named James P. "Sulley" Sullivan. The entire class is also informed by Dean Hardscrabble, the stern Dean of the scare program, that they must pass their final exam of the semester in order to continue in the program. While Mike is studying one night, Sulley inadvertently barges into his room in order to hide the pig mascot of a rival college. While the two bicker, the mascot steals Mike's treasured MU hat and escapes. Mike and Sulley chase the pig outside and struggle to capture it, but when Mike finally manages to do so, Sulley gets the credit, and is invited to join Roar Omega Roar, the elite fraternity on campus. Mike wishes to join, but is denied, magnifying the rivalry between the two.
Mike studies hard and repeatedly answers questions in class correctly, while the privileged Sulley, convinced all he needs is his natural scaring ability, begins to falter. At the final exam, Mike and Sulley's rivalry gets out of hand, resulting in Dean Hardscrabble failing them both and dropping them from the program, which prompts Roar Omega Roar to kick Sulley out of the fraternity. Unhappy in his boring new major, Mike decides to enter the Scare Games, an extracurricular competition involving a series of physical challenges that tests a monster's scaring ability. As the participants must be members of a fraternity or sorority, Mike joins Oozma Kappa, a small fraternity of misfit monsters. Mike tries to enter Oozma Kappa into the scare games, but is told he needs one more member. Sulley, seeing the competition as his ticket back into the scare program, offers to join, which Mike eventually reluctantly accepts. In the process of joining, Mike makes a deal with Dean Hardscrabble, the founder of the games, to re-admit their entire team to the scaring program if they win, whereas if they lose, Mike must leave Monsters University. Sulley expects to carry the team himself, but Mike believes that with enough training, the team can succeed. Meanwhile, Randy becomes a member of Roar Omega Roar and breaks off his friendship with Mike.
With the last-placing team in each round of the Games being eliminated from the competition, Oozma Kappa miraculously advances through the first round and survives by sheer luck. They then attend a party at Roar Omega Roar house where initially the other competitors appear to accept them, but they play fraternity pranks and humiliate Oozma Kappa instead. The group is discouraged as they are now the laughingstock of the entire campus, so Mike arranges a secret visit to Monsters, Inc. to lift their spirits. After that, Oozma Kappa uses their wits to advance all the way to the final round against Roar Omega Roar. Even having advanced so far, Sulley does not believe that Mike can be a true scarer because of his lack of natural ability. After the team surprisingly wins the final round, Mike discovers that Sulley has manipulated the equipment so that Mike would register a perfect score. Mike is heartbroken and wants to prove to everyone that he is capable of becoming a scarer. He breaks into the door lab and uses a newly-crafted door to enter the human world, but his plan goes wrong when it turns out the door leads to a summer camp and he completely fails to scare the children.
Back at the university, Sulley confesses to Hardscrabble that he cheated, just as she is notified of the break-in. Realizing what happened, Sulley enters the door to look for Mike. After finding Mike and reconciling, the pair, now being pursued by human adults, attempt to return, but Dean Hardscrabble has deactivated the door until the Child Detection Agency arrives, trapping them in the human world. Mike realizes that the only way to get back into the monster world is to generate enough scream energy to power the door from their side. Working together, Sulley and Mike scare the investigating adults, generating an overwhelming amount of scream energy and allowing them to return to the lab. Their actions lead to their expulsion from the university, but the other members of Oozma Kappa have been accepted into the scare program the next semester as Hardscrabble was impressed with their performance in the games. They share goodbyes and as Sulley and Mike leave, Hardscrabble approaches and tells them they are the first to have surprised her, and wishes them luck in the future for this. Mike and Sulley take jobs at Monsters, Inc. in the company mailroom with the Abominable Snowman. Over time, they work their way up until they become part of the Scarer Team, establishing the story of Monsters, Inc.
In the post-credits, the yellow slug-like monster (who was seen earlier in the film) finally arrives at the classroom, but learns from the janitor that the school year is over. The slug student runs back which he spends his entire vacation on.
- Billy Crystal as Michael "Mike" Wazowski
- John Goodman as James P. "Sulley" Sullivan
- Steve Buscemi as Randall "Randy" Boggs, a Roar Omega Roar fraternity member.
- Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble, the head mistress at Monsters University.
- Peter Sohn as Scott "Squishy" Squibbles, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member.
- Joel Murray as Don Carlton, a middle age student and the founding member of Oozma Kappa fraternity.
- Sean Hayes as Terri Perry, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member.
- Dave Foley as Terry Perry, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member.
- Charlie Day as Art, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member.
- Noah Johnston as Young Mike Wazowski
- Alfred Molina as Professor Knight, the teacher for Scaring 101.
- Nathan Fillion as Jonathan Worthington, president of Roar Omega Roar.
- Aubrey Plaza as Claire Wheeler, Greek Council president.
- Tyler Labine as Brock Pearson, Greek Council vice-president.
- John Krasinski as "Frightening" Frank McCay
- Bonnie Hunt as Karen Graves, Mike's grade school teacher.
- Bobby Moynihan as Chet Alexander, a Roar Omega Roar fraternity member.
- Julia Sweeney as Sheri Squibbles, Scott's mother.
- Beth Behrs as Carrie Williams, leader of Python Nu Kappa sorority.
- John Ratzenberger as Yeti the Abominable Snowman, a Monsters, Inc. mailroom employee.
- Bob Peterson as Roz, Agent #001 of the CDA.
- Bill Hader as Referee, Slug
- Mona Marshall as Emmett
- Jess Harnell as Fraternity Brother
- John Cygan as Big Red
- Lori Alan as Bus Driver
Pete Docter did not return to direct the prequel. It was confirmed during a Cars 2 press open house that Dan Scanlon (the co-director of the short film Mater and the Ghostlight) would be the director.The film was originally going to be released on November 16, 2012, but was pushed back to November 2 to avoid competition with another film, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. It was finally set for a release on June 21, 2013.
In 2005, Disney had set up Circle 7 Animation to produce sequels to Pixar films. Work was started on a Monsters, Inc. sequel. In 2006 however, following Pixar's acquisition by Disney, all projects of Circle 7 animation were cancelled and the studio closed. Circle 7's version of the sequel, called "Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost in Scaradise" would have seen Mike and Sulley, who after realizing Boo has moved, are trapped in the Human world in the quest of finding her back.
A sequel made by Pixar was confirmed in 2010. In January 2011, rumors surfaced that Monsters, Inc. 2 was going to be a prequel to Monsters, Inc., saying that the film would follow Mike and Sulley when they were at the Monstropolis University of Fear, and how they go from being enemies to best friends. These rumors were confirmed soon after.
On August 12, 2011, Billy Crystal attended a 20th anniversary screening of City Slickers. When asked about his return to the role of Mike Wazowski he replied, “That’s why I’m a little hoarse. I spent five-and-a-half hours today for our fourth session on Monsters, Inc. 2." Crystal says that he and co-star John Goodman are having a blast together and describes the script as "really great" and "hilarious". Crystal also gave little details of the plot of the film saying, “It’s college pranks with monsters. And I wear a retainer. Mike has a retainer." Dan Scanlon, Crystal and Ricky Nierva were present at the D23 Expo talking about the film and showcasing concept and development sketches. Scanlon pointed out that this time, Sulley is not as bulky as he was in the first movie, and Mike is smaller. "We all looked a little different when we were in college. Mike we made a little smaller to either straighten or loosen his teeth. I’m not really sure what the desired effect is in the monster world." John Goodman did not attend the expo. Crystal said, "College is a long way away for me, but bringing this world together at Pixar, where only this could happen, it’s hilarious, it’s funny, and different from anything you could possibly imagine that Monsters Inc. could become."
On December 3, 2012, Georgian Progressive Metal band Mastodon announced via their Twitter page that they were writing a song for the film. The soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on June 18, 2013.
The plot of Monsters University details Mike and Sulley's first meeting, but this created a continuity error from the first film in which Mike tells Sulley that he has been jealous of his looks since the fourth grade. Director Dan Scanlon said he had a dilemma with this line during pre-production, but he believed it was best if Mike and Sulley meet in college because, "we wanted to see their relationship develop when they were adults. And we also felt like college is so much about self-discovery and figuring out who you are." He added, "It felt like the perfect place to do this, but we had that line. So we tried versions where they met young and then we skipped ahead to college. And we knew we didn't want to make Monsters Elementary." Scanlon said during pre-production that, "Pete Docter, the original director, and John Lasseter ... finally said to me, 'it's great that you're honouring that, but you have to do what's right for the story.' So we made a tough decision to just have them be in college and put that line aside." Scanlon also said the line from the first film is, "an old monster expression" and "That's what monsters always say to each other."
Monsters University is the first Pixar film that used global illumination, a new lighting system introduced as part of the overhaul of the rendering system used since the first Toy Story film. In the planning stage of the film, director of photography, Jean-Claude Kalache, asked "What if we made these lights just work?" Before the new system, artists had to build reflections and shadows manually, which became increasingly complex as the models and the setups became more technologically advanced. The new lighting system uses ray tracing, a technique that imitates the behaviour of the light in the real world; this automatized the process, delivered more realism, produced soft shadows, and let the artist spend more time on models and complex scenes—some of which contained thousands of light sources.
For research, the filmmakers visited several colleges in the U.S., including Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Alabama, observing college architecture, student life, Greek organizations, and the teaching methods of professors and faculty. To research fraternity life, which is central to the film, many of the film's producers spent several weeks at a fraternity house.
MarketingThe teaser trailer for the film was released online on June 20, 2012 and was screened in theaters with Brave. Four versions of the teaser were released, each featuring Mike saying a different line in his sleep. Each of the four versions were released by a different news outlet, namely YouTube, Itunes Trailers, Yahoo! Movies and The Huffington Post. The versions are "My pony made the deans list" (link), "I can't go to class, I'm not wearing any clothes" (link), "My homework ate my dog" (link) and "Class President - ha, ha, ha, ha" (link).
In October 2012, Disney/Pixar started a viral campaign by launching a complete, fully functional website for the Monsters University. The website covers all subjects of a real university website, and includes a store where related merchandise can be bought. In addition, the first TV commercial for the film was aired during the 2013 Rose Bowl Game, parodying ads that participating schools air during college football telecasts. On April's fool day, the website was changed to look like it had been hacked and vandalized by Fear Tech, Monsters University's rival school. The colors were changed to orange and Fear Tech symbols would invade the screen upon clicking.
Another viral website surfaced in March 2013. Called The Grumblr, it takes the form of a tumblr blog who would be run by a student at Monsters University. At the occasion of the NCAA March Madness, ESPN presented a short clip showing Monsters University players violently reacting as their team gets eliminated from the competition. This clip was subsequently posted on the Grumbler.
An extended preview of the film was released on February 8, 2013, followed by a full-length trailer for the UK on February 11, 2013, and a clip shown on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon two days later.
On February 15, 2013, another college ad parody was released that showed a few new scenes from the film. The video was entitled "A Message from the Dean." An all-new sneak peek of the film was released on the Monsters, Inc. 3D Blu-ray on February 19, 2013. On February 20, 2013, new character posters, and Student and Faculty ID cards were released. On March 8, 2013, a Japanese trailer was released, revealing a little Mike, and new plot details - with one animator from Pixar going so far as to attest that it "spoils the entire movie." On March 24, 2013, another TV spot was shown at the Kids' Choice Awards.
SoundtrackThe music for the film is Randy Newman's seventh collaboration with Pixar as a composer. Walt Disney Records released the soundtrack on June 18, 2013.
The songs "Main Title", "Rise and Shine", and "The Scare Games" feature the drum line from the Blue Devils group "BD Entertainment". The recordings for the percussion tracks were done at Skywalker Ranch, and were written by Blue Devils Percussion Caption Head Scott Johnson.
The songs "Island" by Mastodon and "Gospel" by MarchFourth Marching Band are featured during the film but do not appear on the soundtrack. The songs "Party Hard" by Andrew W.K. and "Kickstart My Heart" by Mötley Crüe are featured prominently in the teaser trailers but do not appear on the soundtrack or in the film.
All music composed by Randy Newman, except where noted.
- "Main Title"
- "Young Michael"
- "First Day at MU"
- "Dean Hardscrabble"
- "Scare Pig"
- "Wasted Potential"
- "Oozma Kappa"
- "Stinging Glow Urchin"
- "Field Trip"
- "Rise and Shine"
- "The Library"
- "Roar" (performed by Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso of Swedish House Mafia)
- "The Scare Games"
- "Did You Do This?"
- "Human World"
- "The Big Scare"
- "Mike and Sulley"
- "Monsters University"
The first teaser trailer for Monsters University was released on June 20, 2012. Four versions of the trailer exist, with Mike muttering different excuses not to go to class in his sleep in each one like "I can't go to class, I'm not wearing any clothes," "My homework ate my dog," "Class President?" and "My pony made the Dean's List." A second trailer was released on February 11, 2013. A third trailer was released on April 26, 2013, and a fourth and final trailer, which included scenes from the film, was released on May 30, 2013.
On October 8, 2012, Pixar revealed a fully functional website for Monsters University, complete with admissions, academic and campus life info and a campus store to purchase MU apparel. On April Fools' Day 2013 the website was stylized to look like a rival college, Fear Tech, had hacked the website and vandalized it by changing the colours to orange and black and adding photos of the Fear Tech mascot, Archie, over the top of the existing photos. It was also set so whenever the user would click on the website, the Fear Tech logo, Archie the scare pig or "Fear Tech Rulz" would pop up. In addition, the first TV commercial for the film was aired during the 2013 Rose Bowl Game, parodying ads that participating schools air during college football telecasts. From June 27, 2013 and until July 11, Disney's online game Club Penguin hosted a Monsters University Takeover event to promote the film. Players were able to dress up as their favorite monsters, including Mike, Sulley, and others and take part in the Scare Games.
Monsters University had its worldwide premiere on June 5, 2013, as a special screening at BFI Southbank in London with the director and producer in attendance. The film had its Asian premiere as the opening film of the 2013 Shanghai International Film Festival on June 15, 2013. In the United States, it premiered on June 8, 2013, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in theaters on June 21, 2013. The theatrical release of the film was accompanied by Pixar's short film titled The Blue Umbrella. Monsters University was released in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2013.
- Main article: Monsters University (video)
Monsters University was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy and on demand on October 29, 2013. It was accompanied by The Blue Umbrella, Pixar's short film which played alongside the film in theaters.
Monsters University has received mainly positive reviews from critics. The film has a 78% approval rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 182 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. According to that website's critical consensus, the film "Offering Monsters, Inc. fans a return visit with beloved characters, Monsters University delivers funny and thoughtful family entertainment for viewers of any age." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 65 based on 41 reviews.
Matt Zoller Seitz of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four, saying it "is true to the spirit of [Monsters Inc.] and matches its tone. But it never seems content to turn over old ground." Trevor Johnston of Time Out gave the film four stars out of five, writing, "It has enough of the right stuff to haunt the imagination long after the immediate buzz of its fluffy-furred cuteness has melted away. For a mere prequel, that's a result." Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three stars out of four, and said it "is cute, and funny, and the animation, though not exactly inspired, is certainly colorful." Jake Coyle of the Associated Press gave the film three stars out of four, saying it "might not be as gifted as some of its other movies, but sometimes it's alright to be OK." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three stars out of four, and said, "It's all infectious fun, despite the lack of originality. In the art of tickling funny bones, Crystal and Goodman earn straight A's." Richard Corliss of Time gave the film a positive review, saying, "This minor film with major charms still deserves to have kids dragging their parents to the multiplex for one more peek at the monsters in the closet. With Pixar, familiarity breeds content."
Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film three and a half stars out of five and said it is "one of those movies that has absolutely no reason to exist, but once you've seen it, you're kind of glad it does." Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice gave the film a positive review, saying, "Monsters University feels not like the work of artists eager to express something but like that of likable pros whose existence depends on getting a rise out the kids. It's like the scares Sully and Mike spring on those sleeping tykes: technically impressive but a job un-anchored to anything more meaningful." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film three stars out of four, and said it "may not be as inventive as Inc., but it's an amusing and amiable addition to Pixar's roster of animated coming-of-age stories." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "It may be children’s terror that powers the movie’s fictional universe, but it’s the energy of its stars that lights up Monsters University." Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A−, and said it "is exactly the rebound Pixar needed after 2011's Cars 2 left some wondering if the studio had lost its magic. The delightful story of when Mike met Sulley puts those concerns to rest." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three stars out of four, and wrote, "Although it falls short of the best Pixar has brought to the screen over its long association with Disney, it's nevertheless worth a trip to the theater, especially for kids."
The film was not without its detractors, though. Richard Roeper gave the film two and a half stars out of five, saying "This is a safe, predictable, edge-free, nearly bland effort from a studio that rarely hedges its bets." Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald gave the film two stars out of five, and wrote that it "feels half-hearted and lazy, like they weren't even trying. At least show a little effort, guys." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, and said, "This is not a bad movie, and to small children it will be a very good one, but it’s closer to average than one would wish from the company that gave us Up, WALL-E, The Incredibles and the Toy Story series." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of five and wrote, "Both the originality and stirring emotional complexity of Monsters, Inc., with its exquisitely painful and touching parallels with the human world, are missing." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, and said, "The artwork is accomplished, and intricate. The G-rating is genuine, without any gross-out gags. And there's none of the usual winks to the adults with tired, pop-culture references."
Leonard Maltin of IndieWire praised the animation and art direction, but wrote that he wished "the movie was funnier and wasn't so plot-heavy" and that "Pixar has raised the bar for animated features so high that when they turn out a film that’s merely good, instead of great, they have only themselves to blame for causing critics to damn them with faint praise." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two stars out of four, saying, "Monsters University, the weirdly charmless sequel to the animated 2001 Pixar hit Monsters, Inc., is no better or worse than the average (and I mean average) time-filling sequel cranked out by other animation houses." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying that it "never surprises, goes off in unexpected directions or throws you for a loop in the manner of the best Pixar stories. Nor does it come close to elating through the sheer imagination of its conceits and storytelling."
Monsters University earned $268,492,764 in North America, and $475,066,843 elsewhere, summing up to a worldwide total of $743,559,607. It is the fifty-fourth highest-grossing film, the fourth highest-grossing 2013 film, the third highest-grossing Pixar film, and the eleventh highest-grossing animated film. The film earned $136.9 million worldwide on its opening weekend. Disney declined to provide a budget for the film; Entertainment Weekly speculated that it was higher than that of Brave ($185 million), mainly because of the high cost of John Goodman and Billy Crystal reprising their roles. Shockya, a subsidiary website of CraveOnline, estimated the budget to be $200 million—on par with Toy Story 3 and Cars 2.
In the week leading to Monsters University's release, Disney projected an opening weekend gross of at least $70 million. The film opened on Friday, June 21, 2013 in first place with $30.47 million –including $2.6 million in 20:00 Thursday night shows– marking the fifth largest opening day among animated films. The film then reached first place with an opening-weekend gross of $82.43 million; the second largest among Pixar films, the second largest among G-rated films, the fourth largest among prequels, the fifth largest among animated films, and the fifth largest among films released in June. Monsters University remained at first place on its second weekend, declining 45% to $45.6 million. Facing tough competition from Despicable Me 2 on its third weekend, it dropped 57% to $19.7 million. As of October 2013, it is the tenth highest-grossing animated film.
Outside North America
The film earned $54.5 million in 35 markets on its opening weekend. It set a Disney·Pixar opening-weekend record in Latin America with revenues of $31.7 million. In Argentina, the film set an opening weekend record among all films with $5.49 million. In Australia, where it had a simultaneous release with Despicable Me 2, Monsters University debuted behind the latter with $3.56 million in third place. In Hong Kong, the film set opening-day (HK$5.03 million), single-day (HK$7.93 million) and opening-weekend (HK$25.79 million) records among animated films, beating the previous record holder, Toy Story 3. In the UK, the film topped the box office during its opening weekend with a gross of GB£3.46 million. The film's largest opening occurred in China, where its $13 million debut ranked fourth among Disney films. The film's highest-grossing markets are Japan ($90.1 million), the UK, Ireland, and Malta ($47.2 million), and Mexico ($37.6 million).
- In the beginning, it is mentioned that there are 20 people in Mike's class, including himself. So how he was unable to get a partner is unknown.
- The beginning of the teaser trailer makes a nod to both Monsters, Inc.'s teaser trailer and the film's opening scene, using similar shot techniques and narration.
- In the teaser trailer, the snake monster from the intro of Monsters, Inc. appears on a poster to the right of Mike's room.
- Waternoose was originally going to be in the movie and voiced by Kelsey Grammer but sadly this was dropped at the last minute. Fungus, Celia, Needleman, and Smitty were rumored to appear as well.
- Monsters, Inc. is the first Pixar film to have a prequel.
- Monsters, Inc. is the third Pixar film to become a franchise after Toy Story and Cars.
- A monster-stylized blue AMC Pacer can be spotted in the trailer at mark 0:17. The Pacer was featured in Cars 2 as part of the film's villains, the Lemons. The color makes it look like the die-cast version of Petey Pacer. A pink, deformed Zündapp Janus can also be spotted in the same scene.
- The Greek alphabet depicted in this film will be Argma (A), Gamma (G), Slugma (E), Theta (O), Eta (H), Howl (H), Kappa (K), Nu (N), Oozma (O), Python (P), Roar (R), Hiss (S), Phi (O), Chi (X), and Omega (O). Of the 15 letters, only Gamma, Theta, Eta, Kappa, Nu, Phi, Chi, and Omega are real.
- Both Eta and Howl are represented by an "H", which adds to confusion.
- Argma, Slugma, Oozma, and Python's symbols resemble Lambda, Sigma, Omicron, and Rho, respectively.
- This movie creates an inconsistency with the original, in which it was verbally stated by Mike (who'd mentioned they'd been acquainted in the 4th grade), along with Sulley in the very first trailer (mentioning they'd studied geography together in the 5th grade), that Mike and Sulley had known each other since elementary school. But in this movie, they are presented as meeting each other for the first time - The only plausible explanation would be they did know each other in elementary but at some point they didn't see each other anymore (forgetting about the other) and didn't meet again until going to Monsters University. According to director Dan Scanlon he said the 4th grade and 5th grade sayings are slangs for monsters, thus filling the plot hole.
- The A113 gag in this movie is located on the door Sulley enters the Scaring 101 classroom in.
- Randall tells Mike when he first gets noticed by Roar Omega Roar that he is now part of the cool crowd and for Mike not to blow it for him. This is a reference to the American Dad! episode "Chimdale", where Snot Lonstein tells Steve Smith a nearly identical statement.
- During Mike's childhood scene, one of the kids resembles a younger version of George Sanderson, except with purple fur instead of orange fur.
- The hairy monster teacher that lectures on Scream Can Design - which almost puts Mike to sleep - is a parody of Ben Stein's portrayal of the boring lecturer on 'Voodoo Economics', from the comedy film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- During the third event of the Scare Games, Art prevents scaring the teen girl with a pink shirt that says, "But Daddy, I love him!", which represents Ariel's line along at an argument with King Triton about Prince Eric's statue which was saved from drowning and contacting two worlds, merpeople and humans are forbidden from Disney's 1989 2D-animated film, The Little Mermaid by Walt Disney Animation Studios.
- During the final competition of Scare Games, a dinosaur toy representing Arlo from Pixar's upcoming 2015 movie The Good Dinosaur is seen. This was used to tease the upcoming movie.
- Randall used to wear glasses.
- Mike used to wear a retainer.
- In the scene where Sulley gets hit with the urchins, it hits his shoulder and then he takes it off with his hand and his hand puffs up. This is like what happened to Mr. Incredible when he was getting hit by the sludge balls in The Incredibles.
- Director Dan Scanlon has one line in the film, playing an improv student who tries to recruit Mike for the drama society at the MU freshers’ fair.
- Some of the backgrounds cars are derived from Cars 2 characters. For instance, monster-stylized AMC Pacers can be spotted in several scenes. The PNKs are notably seen onboard a pink convertible model when they invite the OKs to a party. Some of these Pacers are painted in a blue color that matches that of the die-cast version of Petey Pacer. Additionally, cars based on the Zündapp Janus can be spotted, as well as cars based on the body of lemons Fred and Otis.
- The Pizza Planet truck appears next to the JOX's house at the party.
- The Luxo Ball appears drawn on the wall in the toxicity challenge to demonstrate how children toys are toxic.
- Roz makes an appearance as Agent #001.
- When Professor Knight was showing what the kid look that was "scaring" on the final exam, it looks like one the kids from Toy Story 3. It is now known that this kid is afraid of spiders and Santa.
- In the OK's basement, there is a picture of a car that resembles Mike's car from Mike's New Car.
- Mr. Waternoose and Celia are seen on pictures in Mike's locker at Monsters, Inc.
- The Scuba Diver from Partysaurus Rex is in the scare simulator when Mike goes in.
- George Sanderson from the first film is a member of JOX.
- The Yeti is seen as Mike and Sulley's boss in the mail room.
- A113 appears on the school of scaring door when Sulley makes his first appearance.