The film industry is obsessed with prequels, but there's one tiny problem: they rarely work. We know the eventual fate of the characters, so there are no stakes. We want to know more about iconic heroes, but seeing their backstory kills gravitas and mystery. From Star Wars to Prometheus, the landscape is littered with films set in familiar worlds that never come together — and often harm the originals they’re working from.

That’s the environment Monsters University is walking into. A follow-up to 2001’s Monsters, Inc., it’s a test not only of prequels but of Pixar Animation Studios itself. A good-natured callback to the college movies of the 1980s, it’s a tremendously entertaining family movie that shows Pixar hasn’t lost its storytelling chops — or its ability to challenge audiences.