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‘Monsters Inc.’ prequel: Billy Crystal gets schooled by Pixar

"Monsters Inc." (Pixar)

Billy Crystal is getting schooled by Pixar — and he couldn’t be happier about returning to the “Monsters Inc.” universe and working again with fellow beastie John Goodman.

“We’re having a blast together,” Crystal said Friday after a marathon recording session for “Monsters University,” which is planned for summer of 2013. “It’s really a great script, it’s really funny.”

Crystal was on stage Friday night at a 20th anniversary screening of “City Slickers,” where he was joined on stage by surprise guest Daniel Stern for a sparkling night of humor and emotion — both spoke warmly of Jack Palance and Bruno Kirby, their “Slickers” costars who both died in 2006. I was the moderator on stage and I also asked Crystal about his return to the role of Michael “Mike” Wazowski, the lime-colored, one-eyed scene-stealer from “Monsters Inc.”

“That’s why I’m a little hoarse. I spent five-and-a-half hours today for our fourth session on ‘Monsters Inc. 2.’ And I have to tell you something, it is hilarious. The Pixar people are geniuses. It’s 10 years since the first movie. Yeah, it’s crazy. And it’s a prequel. They’re in college. It’s how they met, it’s how Michael and Sully meet, and plan to become scarers at Monsters Inc. — so this movie ends where the other one starts.”

The film again puts Crystal side-by-side with Goodman, who plays the hulking and hirsute James P. “Sulley” Sullivan. “John Goodman is a genius and he’s great and we’re really funny together,” Crystal said to a loud ovation from the audience at the American Cinematheque event. The 63-year-old Crystal didn’t elaborate on new cast members or the details of the plot beyond saying: “It’s college pranks with monsters. And I wear a retainer. Mike has a retainer.”

— Geoff Boucher

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