Welcome to Great Expectations, a recurring series in which we break down the most essential information about an upcoming movie or show. In this edition, we look at what you can expect from (and where you can watch) the new Disney animated series Monsters at Work.
When it comes to Pixar movies, it’s pretty hard to top Monsters, Inc. From dopey, loveable monsters to thrilling action scenes and heartwarming lessons in friendship, the 2001 animated feature has it all. Set in Monstropolis, the realm of monsters, the original installment follows best friends Sulley and Mike, employees of the titular company tasked with scaring children and collecting the energy generated by their screams.
Monsters, Inc. received critical acclaim and was a massive box office success, grossing more than $500 million worldwide to rank third globally for the year. It went onto receive one of the first Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature and was also recognized by the Academy in three other categories, winning the award for Best Original Song. A year after its release, Monsters, Inc. spawned a short film, Mike’s New Car, which was also nominated for an Oscar.
More than a decade passed before Pixar delivered a feature follow-up with the 2013 prequel Monsters University, about the year Sulley and Mike met at college. It did not earn any Academy Award nominations, but the movie was another hit for Pixar and Disney (which had acquired the studio in the years since their distribution of the original), grossing more than $700 million worldwide. So it makes sense that nearly another decade later, Disney decided to return to Monstropolis once again.
This time, though, it’s for an animated TV series titled Monsters at Work. What can fans of the Monsters, Inc. world and characters expect from the show, and where will they be able to watch it? Here is everything you need to know:
Monsters at Work Release Date (and Where to Watch)
Like so many TV shows coming out in 2021, production on Monsters at Work was delayed a number of times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the gang of misfit monsters is finally ready to make their debut in the glorious world of streaming, and nothing is stopping them now. A two-episode special will premiere on Disney+ on July 7th. After that, new episodes will come out weekly on Wednesdays through September 1st, when the tenth and final installment drops.
Monsters at Work Cast
Even though the franchise is hitting the small screen, Monsters at Work is sticking with its big stars. John Goodman is returning as our favorite charming oaf, James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, while Billy Crystal is also reprising his role as the grumpy but kind-hearted Mike Wazowski. John Ratzenberger is also back as Yeti, Bob Peterson returns as the snail-like Roz, and Bonnie Hunt, Jennifer Tilly, and Alfred Molina are among the additional recurring familiar voices from the franchise.
Monstropolis is also greeting some newcomers, including Mad Men’s Ben Feldman as Monsters, Inc. rookie Tylor Tuskmon, the protagonist of Monsters at Work, plus Mindy Kaling as his best friend, Val Little, and Henry Winkler as his boss, Fritz. Lucas Neff of the sitcom Raising Hope and Alanna Ubach, the voice of Mamá Imelda in Pixar’s Coco, round out the main cast.
Monsters at Work Plot
While a lot of time has passed in the real world since we said farewell to our furry and big-eyeballed friends, in Monstropolis things are picking up right where they left off from the 2001 movie. As you may recall from the end of Monsters, Inc., the monster community has just discovered that children are harmless and that their laughter is good medicine. So now, their new task is to make the kiddos laugh instead of scream, which might be a little more difficult than it sounds.
Monsters at Work primarily follows Monsters, Inc. newcomer Tyler Tuskmon, just out of Monsters University, whose big horns make him ill-suited for the job of befriending kids. So, he is given a maintenance position. But he is determined to make his way up to the laugh floor alongside his idols Sulley and Mike. Just like in Monsters, Inc., a series of misadventures inevitably follow — and, if we know our monsters, a handful of heartwarming, tear-jerking moments, too.
Watch the Trailer
There aren’t a lot of guarantees in life. But judging from its trailer, it’s pretty much a done deal that Monsters at Work will carry just as much spunk, idiosyncrasy, and soul as its predecessors. Check it out here:
How Did COVID Inspire the Series?
Although development for Monsters at Work began in 2017, the COVID-19 pandemic actually ended up being a vital part of the show’s world-building. Showrunner Bob Gannaway told CBR.com:
“It seems like an obvious thing, but it took us I’d say almost a year to figure out just that really simple idea of a character graduates from the School of Scaring, has dreamed of being a Scarer, idolized Sulley — that’s why he went to MU, then the universe throws him a curveball, and his whole life plan gets turned upside down. How’s he going to deal with that?
Then interestingly, we have this COVID situation, which is all about the world’s universe throwing us a curveball, and how are you going to deal with it? And that made for an interesting character, because now the character, our main character, can be flawed in the sense that the thing I wanted gets taken away from me, and that’s not fair. And the audience, therefore, hopefully, connects with that.”
So if you needed another reason to watch Monsters at Work — though, let’s face it, you probably didn’t — head to Disney+ to see how the show’s creators found the silver lining in a less-than-fortunate situation.