Pixar's "Monsters University," the prequel to the studio's hit film "Monsters Inc.," goes where most kids' movies wouldn't dare: it acknowledges that most dreams will go unrealized.
The film, which was co-written and directed by Dan Scanlon, focuses on the relationship "Monsters Inc." best pals Mike and Sully (voiced, respectively, by Billy Crystal and John Goodman) forged as college freshman at the title institute of higher learning. It's there where Mike realizes his hope of becoming the top scarer in Monstropolis will never materialize, this despite the fact that he's as learned and studied as anyone at Monsters University. As Dean Hardscrabble (voiced with perfect haughtiness by Hellen Mirren) tells him in no uncertain terms, he's just not scary.
"I think we realized that we had an opportunity to tell a story about a character that's not going to get everything he wants in the end," Scanlon told HuffPost Entertainment in a recent interview. "We felt that was something we had never seen in movies, especially family movies -- yet it was something that had happened to so many of us, where we had one path and then veered into another direction."
The story was so prevalent that Scanlon and producer Kori Rae interviewed a number of Pixar employees for a documentary that explores how the animation studio wound up becoming a Plan B for so many people. The results are included on the "Monsters University" Blu-ray and DVD (available on Oct. 29).
"I wanted to be a professional basketball player and all the way through college and then an injury forced me to change tracks," Rae said. "I had to wait and be patient to figure out what was next, but I never thought that I would end up producing a Pixar animated film."
That narrative extended beyond Pixar's Bay Area campus to paying audiences as well. "Someone said had tried to become an animator and gone through a school to study animation and it didn't work out," Scanlon said about a conversation he had after a public screening of the film. "She said the movie really helped her get back on her feet to realize there's something else out there for her. It's just awesome to hear personal stories like that."
"As we've traveled over the summer and done some international press, one of the most gratifying things has been the people who talked to us who really did get the theme and message of the film," he said. "That felt really great. That's why we made it."
"Monsters University" earned $737 million at the global box office after its release in June. The film is also on the short list of possible Best Animated Feature nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards. That's one dream Scanlon, Rae and the rest of their Pixar collaborators could conceivably expect to come true: nine Pixar movies have been nominated for an Oscar since 2001.
The studio has lured some pretty good gets from celebrities either looking to impress their kids or earn a stable residual check, but Paul Newman is the cherry on top... or should that be the salad dressing?
118. Annie Potts as Bo Peep ("Toy Story")
117. John Turturro as Francesco Bernoulli ("Cars 2")
116. Vanessa Redgrave as Mama Topolino/The Queen ("Cars 2")
115. Tony Shalhoub as Luigi ("Cars 2")
114. Cheech Marin as Ramone ("Cars")
113. Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch ("Toy Story 3")
112. Will Arnett as Horst ("Ratatouille")
111. Roddy McDowall as Mr. Soil ("A Bug's Life")
110. Wallace Shawn as Rex ("Toy Story")
109. George Carlin as Fillmore ("Cars")
108. Bruce Campbell as Rod "Torque" Redline ("Cars 2")
107. Penn Jillette as TV Announcer ("Toy Story")
106. Frank Oz as Jeff Fungus ("Monsters Inc.")
105. Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants ("Toy Story 3")
104. Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh ("Brave")
103. Fred Willard as Shelby Forthright (live-action) ("WALL-E")
102. Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head ("Toy Story")
101. Sigourney Weaver as the voice of the Axiom's computer ("WALL-E")
100. R. Lee Ermey as Sarge ("Toy Story")
99. Paul Newman as Doc Hudson ("Cars")
Even amid the intense pressure to keep topping themselves movie after movie, some of the studio's best and brightest find time to voice a character or two, as did the late Joe Ranft who helped define modern animation.
98. John Lasseter as John Lassetire ("Cars 2")
97. Pete Docter as Kevin ("Up")
96. Lou Romano as Snot Rod ("Cars")
95. Lou Romano as Bernie Kropp ("The Incredibles")
94. Andrew Stanton as Crush ("Finding Nemo")
93. Andrew Stanton as Evil Emperor Zurg ("Toy Story 2")
92. Brad Bird as Ambrister Minion ("Ratatouille")
91. Brad Bird as Edna Mode ("The Incredibles")
90. Joe Ranft as Red ("Cars")
89. Joe Ranft as Jacques ("Finding Nemo")
88. Joe Ranft as Lenny ("Toy Story")
The sardonic postal worker from "Cheers" has found a home in every single Pixar movie, and neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays him from doing so. His bad guy straight out of Jack Kirby-era "Fantastic Four" is the hilarious punchline of "Incredibles."
87. John Ratzenberger as Tom ("Up")
86. John Ratzenberger as Mustafa ("Ratatouille")
85. John Ratzenberger as the school of Moonfish ("Finding Nemo")
84. John Ratzenberger as Mack ("Cars 1 & 2")
83. John Ratzenberger and Kathy Najimy as John and Mary ("WALL-E")
82. John Ratzenberger as P.T. Flea ("A Bug's Life")
81. John Ratzenberger as Hamm ("Toy Story 1,2, & 3")
80. John Ratzenberger as The Abominable Snowman ("Monsters Inc.")
79. John Ratzenberger as The Underminer ("The Incredibles")
"Lawrence of Arabia" himself lent an extra air of gravitas to the stuck-up food critic who gets magically transported back to his childhood via a simple peasant dish.
78. Teddy Newton as Chatter Telephone ("Toy Story 3")
77. Bud Luckey as Chuckles ("Toy Story 3")
76. Willem Dafoe as Gill ("Finding Nemo")
75. Denis Leary as Francis ("A Bug's Life")
74. Jeff Garlin as Captain B. McCrea ("WALL-E")
73. Peter O'Toole as Anton Ego ("Ratatouille")
The Bad Parents
For years comedian Patton Oswalt used Brian Dennehy as a punchline in his act, so it was fitting that the great character actor should wind up playing his garbage eating, philistine rat of a father.