Monsters University: Prequel to an Energy Movie

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY 2013, Walt Disney Studios

2013, Walt Disney Studios

I watched Monsters University (2013) with my kids. This movie, which is a prequel to the energy-themed Monsters, Inc. (2001), is an entertaining look at college life. Its story line is presented in the context of two main protagonists (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman) who dream of working at the power plant someday.

While getting clean, reliable scream energy is the motive of “scarers”—who are like the celebrated athletes of today’s society and the main characters in this story—the movie didn’t dwell much on the finer elements of energy. Having said that, a few things jumped out at me.

First, the college Monsters University, is where elite scarers go to get training in the science and fine art of scaring.  The “Scaring College” is akin to the “Engineering College” where our best and brightest (Editor’s note: can you tell I’m an engineer?) go to train and the modern-day energy industry goes to find much of its talent. Many scenes spotlight the pressures of being a college student preparing for their dream.

Second, the university has a sophisticated R&D lab where students gain expertise through class projects and where innovation takes place.  Those labs remind me of what I see at the University of Texas. Minus the monsters.

Third, the power plant itself makes a few appearances. And, notably, the smokestacks are putting out a lot of emissions.  It’s not clear to me why screams would produce emissions. And, I haven’t gone back to double-check, but I do not recall smokestacks being shown so prominently in the original movie Monsters, Inc., which presumably takes place in the future. It’s as if the movie makers are implying that as time moves on, the power plant got cleaner.   That point would actually be an accurate reflection of power plants in the United States: they get cleaner with time.

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