Just when you think your college degree is a ticket to success, someone moves the bar.
Tylor Tuskmon, a graduate from Monsters University, learns his “scare” degree is worthless when Monsters Inc. switches from scares to laughs to fuel its community.
In “Monsters at Work,” a new Disney+ series, he gets rerouted to the Facilities Team where, let’s face it, life isn’t all that joyous.
Behind the transition: Mike Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan.
The two (from the “Monsters Inc.” films) are now in charge and trying to right the ship. As you can imagine, nothing seems to work.
Billy Crystal and John Goodman return as Mike and Sulley. Ben Feldman steps up as Tylor. The interesting factor: Tylor isn’t all that far removed from Feldman’s character on “Superstore.” Like Jonah, Tylor doesn’t think he’ll stay long at his job, yet guts it out at MIFT (the facilities team) to learn who’s really in charge.
Produced by Bobs Gannaway, “Monsters at Work” has the same high-end look, just not the same high-end laughs. Even Crystal is a little subdued with his vaudevillian shtick. (He teaches a class in the dangers of comedy.)
The great new recruit: Fritz (Henry Winkler), Tylor’s friend and boss. Looking a bit like a Heffalump, he bumbles through plenty of situations and lands laughs. When no one has arms long enough to “wrench the nut” (you have to watch to understand), Fritz calls on Tylor and, sure enough, he can make it happen.
Possessing long antlers and a kind disposition, Tylor isn’t able to shut down Val Little (Mindy Kaling), a fellow worker who insists they went to school together and were besties. He disagrees; she never disappears. Together, they’re like Mike and Sulley. One’s hyper and talkative; the other kind and understanding.
Placed next to “Monsters Inc.” and “Monsters University,” this iteration doesn’t have the nonstop string of jokes the others boasted. It relies heavily on character and, occasionally, goes to the pun well.
There, where Mike practically lives, “Monsters at Work” realizes its potential.
While some old characters are in the mix (Mike and Sulley are senior citizens next to this group), it’s a new team. They all have quirks (and goofy looks). They all help Tylor learn things never taught at Monsters University.
Feldman is a good lead. As in “Superstore,” he has the desire to fit in but that restlessness that keeps him jumping.
The first two episodes are merely introductory. We get a lay of the land and a look at the new turf. Mike and Sulley get their new gigs but they’re clearly supporting characters. In time, it’s likely they’ll be too busy in the executive suite to scare up business with the facilities folks.
It’s cute. But “Monsters at Work” might need a little more retooling on the scripts. They’re a laugh-a-10 minutes.
“Monsters at Work” premieres July 7 on Disney+.