Monsters University

image for Monsters University

Short takes

Parental guidance recommended under 6 (Scary scenes and characters)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Monsters University
  • a review of Monsters University completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 June 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and characters
Children 6 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Monsters University
Classification: G
Length: 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Monsters University is the prequel to the popular Monsters Inc. animation released in 2001. It tells the story of the early lives of the well loved monsters, big Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) and the one eyed Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal). 

Monsters University begins with Mike as a young monster who becomes inspired by some of the most infamous Scare monsters in Monstropolis.  As he grows, Mike remains focussed on his dreams and one day is successful in being admitted into the well-respected Scare Program at Monsters University. 

On his first day at university Mike meets Sulley, a natural born Scarer from a long line of successful Scarers, who is dismissive of Mike’s intelligence and ambition.  Intent to prove that he can be scary, both to his classmates and to Dean Hardscrabble(voiced by Helen Mirren), Mike develops a rivalry with Sulley. He hopes that his smartness can outdo Sulley’s unsophisticated brawn.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Monsters scaring children

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There are many scenes of menacing monsters intent on scaring others and children, including:

  • A monster scares a child who screams for some time
  • A two headed bird eats a worm
  • A scary librarian slug roars and grabs the monsters if they make noise (the scene is suspenseful)
  • Monster children breath fire at other monsters
  • All the monsters practice their scary roars on each other and pretend children
  • Monsters are hit with a bat during one scene where an initiation is performed in a dark basement
  • Some scenes depict Mike being bullied by monsters at school and later university.  He is called names and excluded.


Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The movie is about scaring young children for their screams.  This concept may scare small children who are having their own bedtime fears. There is an array of different shaped monsters- some are more visually scary than others.
  • Dean Hardscrabble is menacing in nature, dark and threatening in her movements

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern, although associated merchandise being marketed to children

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Mike has a romantic dream about a princess and kisses the air whilst dreaming of her
  • Sorority girl monsters are seen flirting with some of the monsters, by fluttering their eyelashes and acting coy

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some mild sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Two monsters kiss when they announce their engagement

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There are some mild coarse language and put downs in this movie, including

  • shut up
  • lame
  • son of a …
  • eat my dust

In a nutshell

Monsters University is a family movie and prequel to Monsters Inc. It tells the background story of Sculley and Mike Mazowski, two loveable monsters learning many life lessons as they learn about the tough world of Scaring. Although the film has been given a G rating, there are scenes and characters in it that may scare children under six, particularly those who already have fears of imaginary monsters. Also, Mike is excluded and bullied at times throughout the movie.  Parents may wish to discuss the real-life experience of bullying and the ways that Mike learns to manage these experiences.

The main messages from this movie are about determination, loyalty and friendship. Mike and Sculley work hard to become scarers and find that working together makes them better Monsters.