It’s incredibly been 20 years(!) since Pixar first transported us to the city of Monstropolis and the top scarer partnership, best friends James P. “Sulley” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, in Monsters Inc. The film went on to become an award-winning box office success, spawning prequel Monsters University, along with a raft of spinoffs including games, a short, rides and even a mini comic book series. It’s fair to say the hit franchise became a beloved childhood favourite for many, so it was no surprise that a sequel television series was announced for streaming service Disney+, thankfully with many of the main cast onboard for the continuation.
Created by Pete Docter and developed by Bobs Gannaway, Monsters at Work picks up straight after the events of Monsters Inc, as the energy company is making the transition to generate power from scares to the sound of laughter. The series follows Monsters University top scare graduate Tylor Tuskmon (Superstore’s Ben Feldman) on his chaotic first day at the company, as his dreams of working with his idols Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) take an unexpected turn. Instead of becoming a scarer, he finds himself transferred to the Facilities Team, with eccentric boss Fritz (Henry Winkler) and co-workers Duncan (Lucas Neff), Cutter (Alanna Ubach) and fellow graduate Val Little (Mindy Kaling).
The 10 episode spinoff series definitely channels the chaotic energy and humour of a workplace sitcom comedy, reminiscent of The Office and The IT Crowd. It’s fascinating to see the company transition following the discovery of the power of laughter, along with the departure of Mr. Waternoose. Gannaway builds upon the story first established in the beloved original by introducing brand new characters alongside established favourites, giving us a brand new insight into the behind-the-scenes working of Monsters, Incorporated. We follow Tylor Tuskmon as his dream job isn’t quite what he expected – transferred to the MIFT team, Val shows him the ropes as he finds his place in the band of misfits as they try and support a newly changing business delving into the comedy scene! It’s certainly a much more family focused and simpler series, channeling the nostalgia and charm of the original for an endearing and light-hearted tale of finding your place in a changing world.
It’s fantastic to see so many of the original cast returning to reprise their original roles, including Goodman, Crystal and Jennifer Tilly as Mike, Sulley, and Celia, along with my personal favourite – Bob Peterson as Roz, (who also voices Roz’s twin sister, Roze!) Crystal and Goodman continue to be the real heart of the series, and it’s great to see Crystal continue to channel his singing talents too as the fun musical numbers return. The established characters are nicely balanced with the fantastic additions of new cast members, voicing a band of quirky but loveable misfits. The dynamics between the MIFT team are entertaining and fun, with standouts including Mindy Kaling’s fuzzy Val Little and Henry Winkler’s Fritz. So far, Ben Feldman’s Tylor Tuskmon surprisingly feels like one of the weakest links due to his negativity, however I’m sure he’ll undergo further character development throughout the series.
While it does take a little while to get used to the updated visuals and animation by ICON Creative Studio, the series features even more fun and ingenuous creature designs. Alongside Sulley, Val Little is one of the cutest and fluffiest of the monsters, while there’s plenty of variety with the crab-esque character Cutter and winged reptilian looking Duncan, complete with literally four eyes. British composer Dominic Lewis is on soundtracking duties, bringing a real jazzy vibe to the score. He also performs the fun theme song, which is an a-cappella rendition of Newman’s opening credits music from the original.
The first 2 episodes of Monsters at Work are an endearing, nostalgic & charming workplace comedy perfect for the whole family. While the story does feel a little more basic than the beloved original, it’s fantastic to be back in Monstropolis and spending time with Mike, Sully and the new recruits, so very much looking forward to seeing more.
Monsters at Work will be released on Disney+ on July 7, 2021