Since the Toy Story days, Pixar's charming stories and Randy Newman's droll music have gone together like chocolate and peanut butter. The mix is just as winning on the soundtrack to Monsters University, the Monsters Inc. prequel that takes audiences back to Mike and Sulley's college days.This film's music follows in the big, hairy footsteps of Monsters Inc. (which, aside from the song "If I Didn't Have You," was entirely instrumental) by focusing on Newman's sprightly orchestral score, showcasing his gifts as a composer and arranger instead of his inimitable raspy voice and vivid lyrics. He delivers purely cartoony moments made for tiptoeing and other eye-popping antics -- literally, in the case of green cyclops Mike -- on "The Library" and "Did You Do This?," as well as clever action and suspense cues such as "The Scare Games," "Stinging Glow Urchin," and "The Big Scare," which Newman surrounds with the rah-rah college marching band feel of tracks like the main title, "Rise and Shine," and "Monsters University," all of which complement the film's setting perfectly. While "Young Michael" and "Sulley" have such an appealing shuffle that they practically beg to be topped by Newman's voice, all of his cues radiate so much of his, and the monsters', personality that it's not necessary to hear him sing. Aside from Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso's "Roar," a bit of throbbing EDM that captures the feel of a campus rager, Monsters University is all Newman, and like his other Pixar collaborations, it's a thoughtfully and playfully crafted delight.
Review by Heather Phares