Monsters University – An In-Depth Look at the Hidden Items, References and Details of the Film

I Love Monsters University Sticker

Monsters University had a “Monsterous” opening weekend at the Box Office and with our multiple screenings of the film we wanted to highlight some of the amazing details that we spotted, as well as some of the fun hidden items we’ve come to expect (and a few unexpected as well). *Please note that if you are trying to stay away from SPOILERS avoid reading below as we discuss details within the film*

Hidden Items & References

One of the great things about Pixar films is finding the “easter eggs” hidden throughout the film – below is a list referencing the confirmed items we have found (as well as some that we are speculating may be additional hidden items).

  • At the beginning of the film, during the field trip scene – little Mike Wazowski exits the bus and says “Thanks Joe, good luck finishing your crossword puzzle” – now, we can’t be 100% certain but we felt that this may have been a reference to the late Pixarian, Joe Ranft.
Monsters University Easter Egg Joe Ranft

Confirmed – On Mike Wazowski’s field trip he is partnered up with his teacher, Karen Graves. If this voice sounds familiar it’s because it’s non-other than Bonnie Hunt – who besides John Ratzenberger is the most frequent voice actor in Pixar films. Bonnie has provided her voice acting talents for A Bug’s Life (Rosie), Monsters, Inc. (Flint), Cars/Cars 2 (Sally) and Toy Story 3/Toy Story Toons (Dolly).

Monsters University Easter Egg Bonnie Hunt

Confirmed – In addition to the big three hidden items (Luxo Jr. ball, A113 & the Pizza Planet Truck), Pixar fans have also grown accustomed to viewing a hidden character or item from one of Pixar’s upcoming films. With The Good Dinosaur scheduled for release on May 30, 2014 we were eagerly watching the screen for references of some friendly dinos and luckily TGD director, Bob Peterson tweeted a hint to “follow the toys”. The first sighting is when young Mike Wazowski sneaks into the child’s room with Frank McKay – there is a dinosaur skeleton on the floor as well as a stegosaurus on the shelf above Frank’s left shoulder. The second sighting is during the final challenge of The Scare Games when the referees are sweeping up toys to reset between scares – there you will see several more dinosaur toys, one of which appear in The Good Dinosaur logo.

Confirmed – The famed “A113” can be seen when Sulley storms into class on the first day of Scaring 101. A113 refers to the former classroom of John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton at CalArts. The number makes an appearance in every Pixar feature film.

Monsters University Easter Egg A113

Confirmed – Back in February, John Goodman was a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and based on the clip of Monsters U that he brought, we got our first hint that Mike and Randall were roommates. The hilarious “Winds of Change” inspirational poster that Randy has hanging above his bed harkens back to Monsters, Inc. when he tells Mike & Sulley, “Shh, shh, shh…do you hear that? It’s the winds of change“. That is a great nod back to the original film – we would love to know who came up with the idea of the inspirational poster!

Monsters University Easter Egg Winds of Change

Confirmed – The Pizza Planet Truck has appeared in each Pixar film (with the exception of The Incredibles) and Monsters U continues this tradition. It took us until our third viewing in order to catch the truck parked in the driveway of the JOX fraternity house (as Mike is riding Archie into the house), but when we did, we were nudging each other quite vigorously to point it out.

Monsters University Easter Egg Pizza Planet Truck

Confirmed – When Don Carlton first explains his story of getting downsized to Mike and Sulley at the Oozma Kappa house he shows his “Sales” business card to Sulley – the address of his office was 1200 Dark Avenue and Pixar’s address is 1200 Park Avenue.

During Mike and Sulley’s initiation in the basement of the Oozma Kappa house, Sherry Squibbles abruptly turns the lights on. In the background, you can see a poster of a car that looks a lot like Mike’s car in the short, Mike’s New Car. Since Monsters University takes place years before Monsters, Inc. we believe the car would resemble an older model of Mike’s car in the short film. What do you think?

Monsters University Easter Egg Mike's New Car

When Brock Pearson is very excitingly explaining that you will not want to touch the stinging glow urchins during the Toxicity Challenge, you can see the Pixar ball (also known as the Luxo Jr. ball) on the wall as they pan to the chest holding the glow urchins.

Monsters University Easter Egg Pixar Ball

This next reference is one that we can’t stop thinking about. In Monsters, Inc. when Sulley starts repeatedly slamming the door after he and Mike are banished, we couldn’t help but draw a comparison to Monsters U when Mike is opening and closing the door of the camp closet realizing that they are essentially banished. We loved how in both movies that what they wanted most was essentially being taken away from them during this moment (Boo with Sulley and with Mike becoming a scarer).

Monsters University Easter Egg Banish Yeti
  • Confirmed – It was great to see a few characters from Monsters, Inc. make an appearance in the film as well. 
    • George Sanderson appears as a JOX fraternity member and Monsters Incorporatedemployee at the end of the film.
    • Roz (dressed in a fully customized CDA outfit to fit her hair) explained that the CDA will be “watching these two…always watching“.
    • Yeti – once Mike and Sulley begin to work their way up through the ranks at Monsters Incorporated we see our soon-to-be-banished friend, the Yeti (voiced by Pixar’s lucky charm, John Ratzenberger) who says, “Alright newbies, quit goofing around. I’ll have you know tampering with the mail is a crime punishable by banishment“. What else is funny is that we hear how he may have been banished…tampering with the mail.
    • An image of Mr. Waternoose with a full head of hair appears during the epilogue as Mike and Sulley are working their way up through the ranks at Monsters Incorporated.
    • Additionally, a love note written to Mike with a quick image of Celia appears in Mike’s locker during the epilogue as well.
Monsters University cameos from Monsters Inc

Details, Details, Details

It’s no surprise that we are floored by the details in Monsters University – the collaboration between all of the departments at Pixar allowed Monsters University to become the incredible film that it is. There were quite a few details that really stuck out to us, some of which may go unnoticed, but we really wanted to discuss them because it’s those details that really add to the depth and realism of the film.

  • The scene where Mike and Sulley are in the human world by the lake offers so many jaw-dropping moments, it’s crazy. The scene not only caught our eye because of the incredibly realistic water reflections and shadows but the mud and dirt on Mike’s feet was amazing. I have no clue how Pixar was able to create such an accurate look of mud when the scene is almost black, the ground is dark and now you’re going to put dark mud on his feet as well – Mike’s feet could easily disappear among everything else. Because of this detail, everything else in the scene is elevated to a higher level as well.
Monsters University Lake Scene with Water and Moon

Additionally, in the lake scene, there were two more moments that really caught our eyes. We loved how the moonlight streamed between the stacked canoes and projected thin shafts of light across Sulley’s chest as he tried to convince Mike to go back to the cabin. Finally, in this scene, another astounding moment was when Sulley was running from the park rangers and was trying to climb up a steep hill. As he attempts to scratch and claw his way to higher ground, the way the dirt streams down the hill at varying acceleration rates based on his scrapes is beyond amazing. We really hope people notice this because someone had to animate this tiny detail – although it’s small, if the dirt didn’t look natural you’d notice it without a doubt.

Monsters University Sulley Climb Dirt

During one of the first scenes in the film (the field trip scene), we get a great look at the concrete parking lot at Monsters Incorporated. Although the concrete seems so trivial, it rarely looks clean – it is dirty, has dried gum stuck to it, and has small cracks throughout. As you can see from the screenshot below (from later in the movie), there are many imperfections, discolorations, and even a crack in the lower right-hand corner. Additional textures are really highlighted in the wallpaper of the Oozma Kappa house – the small tears and how it is slightly peeling away from the walls really give the house that “lived-in” look (look to the left of Art’s head).

We’ve talked about the slug before, but on the larger theater screen, we noticed the movement of the zipper on the slug’s backpack. The subtle sounds of the zipper bouncing against the teeth of the zipper are so great – it’s a subtle but again, an authentic element that adds to the realism. Mike’s keychain on his backpack is also amazing as he first enters the ground of Monsters University. The movement of the keychain as he quickly turns his body left and right is great – even when he walks, the subtle bouncing looks so accurate.

The scene where OOZMA KAPPA joins the Scare Games is one of the most beautifully lit scenes. Set on a cloudy day with only little bits of sun peeking out, the team did a flawless job creating a mood that was so realistic that is captivated us – we nearly forgot to watch the characters as we were watching the overcast clouds in the scene (look at that rim lighting on Hardscrabble).

Monsters University Clouds
  • We absolutely loved the movement of the camera during a few scenes as well. First, when young Mike crossed the safety line at Monsters Incorporated and his teacher first catches a glimpse of him – we loved how the camera zoomed in and had to take a moment to catch focus. It was a fresh way of effectively doing a double-take without having to show Ms. Graves’ face. Additionally, we loved the camera movements when the OK gang was running from the security guards after their break-in at Monsters Incorporated. The natural bounce, quick movements, and lens flare from the flashlights as the action progressed was jaw-dropping.
  • We could effectively go on and on about every detail but the last one we’ll call out specifically is the early morning fog and the breath from the OK crew as they exercise. As you can see in the first screenshot below, there is a light fog that is hovering just above the grass as the scene zooms in. As you get closer, you can also see that as the gang works out you can see their “breath” condense in the morning air as they work out. It’s not just steam coming up (like with Terry and Terri’s hot chocolate), it’s accelerating out at the proper rate for their actions – wow! The screenshot really doesn’t show their breath all that well, but you can see it in the final trailer really clearly.
Monsters University Easter Egg House Address
Monsters University Easter Egg House Address
Comments 26
  1. What a great post! I've already seen MU 3 times, and I managed to catch a lot of these great references like the A113 and Luxo ball, but for the life of me couldn't find the Pizza Planet truck. In the event I go again, I'll be even more tuned in to Pixar's genius!

  2. Great post T.J. and Julie! Now I definitely want to watch the movie again! I've also noticed another nice camera movement in the scene when Sully is trying to teach Mike how to be scary in their OK bedroom. After that short sequence, when they're both in the bunk bed, the camera first shows Mike and then goes up to Sully (with that fantastic worried face) I thought that was great! Mostly because I was wondering during the whole scene how they would make that transition from Mike saying the line to Sully's reaction. That was a very smart choice for camera movement since they're both in a bunk bed right next to the wall. I love how Pixar can surprise and amuse us even in this small details.

  3. Great post guys! You both have an eye for details for sure, I can't believe you notice all the background items. Looks like I'll have to go see the movie again with this list in my hand!

  4. Haha you guys are such lovable Pixar geeks! I love all the works that go into this minutiae of details!

  5. The realistic lighting just blew me away. I need to see it once or twice more so I can catch more of the details and keep track of some of my favorite scenes! Pixar was able to put so much more detail into this film I thought! I agree, that lake scene was amazing!One other comment regarding John Ratzenberger, what I found funny is that on Cheers, Ratzenberger played a mailman!

  6. Thanks Gendry – yup, we are tried and true Pixar geeks for sure! The work that goes into those little details is why we love Pixar for sure – agreed!

  7. Hey Daniel – you are completely right! That scene is amazing and I noticed that as well. Between the low shot of Mike when he has the lamp on his face (when he's practicing his scaring) to that scene in the bunk beds, the emotion in Sulley's eyes is great. I also love the way the soft light makes the blue of his eyes seem to glow a bit too (you can really see the details). Again, great catch!

  8. Hey Cole – that's great that we can help in any small way with someone's genius! Ha! Three times seeing the film already, huh? That's great – you're a die hard for sure!

  9. You forgot to mention the dialogue is borrowed from that last photo. \”Scary feet\” is the intro to MI, and I was one of the very few laughing in cinemas for finding it so brilliant they put it in here too.

  10. Something as a Cars buff I noticed is that some of the background cars in MU are based on Cars characters. I have seen a lot of Pacers (including the car the PNKs ride), numerous Zundapps, and at least one car based on Fred (the rusty car you know the name). Of course, all of them are quite deformed to fit the monster world, but I'm sure of it (I could post a detailed comparison). One thing I found funny is that these three cars are \”lemons\” in Cars, like if it was logical monsters drive the ugly cars that look \”monstrous\” in our world.For the car from Mike's New Car, I'm not sure. Outside the six wheels (which seems to be a standard in the monster world) and the yellow colour, there's little resemblance between the two…Might be a little off-topic, but I also wonder if there are any Easter eggs in The Blue Umbrella ? When I saw it, I was so amazed I forgot to look out for hidden gems. I say this because long ago some posts from Rainy City Tales 332 had intrigued me: first one seems to say the PPT is used as a background car (!), and the second has, among other neons, \”Luigi's\”, and \”Casa della tires\”…Does anybody know if they made it to the final film ?…

  11. Hey – awesome insight! Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if they chose to use the models for the \”lemons\” because they would be the cleanest pallet to add onto and stretch. Also a lot of the other cars had very defined shapes and since they only want your eye to concentrate on the monsters, I'm assuming the more basic look of those cars made a better choice. I also like the comments on The Blue Umbrella a lot! I forgot about the reference to the Pizza Planet Truck on the whiteboard. I also didn't remember seeing any of the Cars neon signs but I agree with you that we got so caught up with the animation we weren't looking for the hidden items. If they did use a model of car, I'm assuming it would have been from characters like Vern (the taxi) since there were a lot of them in the short. Not 100% sure though. Next time we watch it, we'll be sure to keep a close eye for hidden items here too. Pixar Post – T.J.

  12. Hey Emily – if you're looking for the image of the Oozma Kappa gang where they get the paint poured on them during the college party…we haven't seen a good high-resolution image from this yet. If we come across one we'll be sure to let you know! 🙂

  13. I've only seen the movie once but what stood out to me were subtle references to movies in the human world. For example the paint scene at the ROR party has to be a wink to Stephen Kings Carrie as well as a Mad Max nod at the beginning of one of the Scare Games events. Of course Animal House kinda goes without saying. I can't wait to find more! We appreciate your hard work TJ and Julie!!

  14. Thanks Joni! Perfect references to live-action movies – as you continue to see it, let us know if you come across any other gems! Pixar Post – T.J.

  15. I got to see MU again, and I noticed that in his locker Mike has a picture (I think it was a magazine cover) with a car on it. There was another paper on top of it, it didn't show very long, but I am positive the car was Mike's car from Mike's New Car! It had the same double spoilers, and seemed to correspond otherwise.Also, as a follow-up to my previous comment, I tried to look at the passing cars in the background of The Blue Umbrella. While I easily missed most of them, I had the impression I saw a shadow of Pizza Planet truck pass during the shot where Red and Blue are separated… But… I am really really not sure… It also seemed to me most neons are lost in the distance or the depth of field, and thus I couldn't verify if the Cars neons appearAnd, I agree with IMDb: there is a John Carter poster on a bus stop.

  16. Great input again! I'll have to see about Mike's locker – I didn't notice that one. But I did get a really good look at The Blue Umbrella and noticed a few more things. I personally didn't see the Pizza Planet truck and I really tired to look where Red and Blue get separated.The only signs I could read were larger signs that read Tattoo, Cafe, Motel and possibly BBQ. The Tattoo sign looks a lot like how Ramone's name appears on his house of body art. It would also be a stretch to say the Motel sign was a nod to the Cozy Cone…and the Cafe sign as a nod to Flo's since they look so different.Additionally, the street sign that blinks super-fast to try and get the car to move has an 86 painted on it – assuming this is a nod to Pixar's year of incorporation. Finally, the image that we discussed above that may (or may not) be a nod to \”Mike's New Car\” during the Oozma Kappa initiation appears on a billboard as Blue is gently floating down back into the city after first getting away from his owner.I think we'll really be able to dig in once the Blu Ray is released!

  17. i LOVE MU SO MUCH! The film's so great – flawless! Great job! plus its another gem for Pixar's! 🙂

  18. At the beginning when Mike is getting settled into his dorm room, he places a familiar toy on his bookshelf. Who could that be?

  19. That's even more humorous! Sorry for the delay in the comment showing up as well Katie (or admin site wasn't sending us notification emails like it usually has)

  20. Everybody loves Monsters Inc.Presently,the same will be true for Monsters University.We dive further into the stories of Mike and Sulley and I was hooked.The film exploits our adoration for the characters and throws them into a genuinely enjoyable film for all ages.It is one of the additionally entertaining and admirable Disney films I've seen in a while and its elusive flaws.Regardless of every last one of positives,its most clear flaw is that its not tantamount to Monsters Inc.Which is sad,yet reasonable.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>>hidden objects games

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