Set directly after the events of 2001’s Monsters, Inc., Monsters At Work follows Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman), an aspiring scarer whose life goal is altered when he finds out Monsters Incorporated has been transformed scaring company into a laughter company since Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) took over management.
Monsters At Work does a great job at taking the Monsters franchise and bringing it to the small screen in a way that captures the infectious charm of the original film and uses that to draw in audiences of all ages. Cute, fun and genuinely funny, this series offers some light laughs throughout each of the 10 episodes as its characters navigate new, unseen corners of Monsters Inc. Each individual episode sees Tyler and the MIFT crew on a mini adventure, interacting with characters both new and old, while the grand goal of Tyler getting on the Laugh Floor operates in the background. Some of these minor narratives are better than others, but they’re all simple enough that younger and older audiences can get something out of them. The new crew of monsters do grow on you with each passing episode, gradually becoming more interesting as their team dynamic gets stronger. However, they never get to the point of being strong enough characters to carry the series on their own. That’s where the returning cast comes into play.
Having Mike and Sulley return alongside a long list of returning supporting characters from Monsters, Inc. is what really elevates this series beyond being just okay. Mike and Sulley feature in almost every episode of the season, not always in the foreground but always lighting up the screen whenever they appear. Sometimes they have a full episode-long arc, and sometimes they just pop in for a scene or two, either way it really helps cement this series as a core part of the franchise. Alongside the appearance of those two, there’s additional jokes, references and easter eggs linking to the events of Monsters, Inc. that are sure to give those OG fans, like myself, something to get a good laugh out of.
Speaking of laughs, there’s a good amount of light-hearted, silly humour weaved into each episode that’s catered more to a younger audience, while still offering the more subtle bits of comedy only older audiences will notice. Despite this project not being made by Pixar, it still delivers that same sensibility of designing the comedy around appealing to a wider audience. Certain sequences such as the regular Mike’s Comedy Class, which caps off the end of each episode, are cute and offer some neatly funny moments that you can just sit back and enjoy. Obviously, not all of the humour hits the mark, but none of the misses ever really detract from the heart of the series. It’s a positive, uplifting journey that only evokes the same fun vibes as the original film.
Performance-wise, there’s a relatively strong cast behind the characters, bringing to life the unique mix of personalities in the MIFT team. Mindy Kaling (Val), Henry Winkler (Fritz) and Lucas Neff (Duncan) are the three standouts, creating the three most varied and interesting characters of the team. Whenever one of them speaks, you know they’re going to bring something fresh to absolutely any scene they’re in. On the other hand, I don’t think Ben Feldman did as great of a job playing the lead, Tylor Tuskmon. He just didn’t bring as much life or enthusiasm to the series, which is where those previously-mentioned actors really excel. Due to their performances, I feel like I could describe the personality of those other supporting characters, but Ben’s performance just comes across as pretty one-note across the series. He’s not bad to watch, it’s just better when anyone else is on screen with him.
In the end, Monsters At Work is a successful followup to the original Monsters, Inc. film, acting as both a spin-off and sequel as it follows the adventures of both new and old characters. It largely matches the charm of that original film and makes for a very fun ride with plenty of heart. It’s got some great, silly laughs spread throughout the series that are more than suitable for kids and older audiences. Easter eggs, references and familiar faces are sure to cater to fans of the original, making this a worthwhile watch for a very wide demographic. At just 10 short episodes, throw this up on Disney+ and bring some joy to your weekend.