Party Central - Sneak Peek
Last summer, at Disney's D23 Expo, which is like Comic Con but exclusively Disney-related, during the animation panel, John Lasseter surprised the crowd with a brand-new "Monsters University" short called "Party Central." The short, which takes place during the events of "Monsters University" at a party thrown by dweeby frat Oozma Kappa (and makes inventive use of the monster-world's door technology), totally brought down the convention center.

"Party Central" is a zippy, wildly entertaining bit of filmmaking so packed with insane detail that, as soon as it's over, begs to be re-watched. We're thrilled to bring you a clip and exclusive images from "Party Central," which will make its grand, slime-soaked debut ahead of "Muppets Most Wanted" next month.

Here's the basic set up of "Party Central": cuddly cyclops Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) have stolen a pair of doors and are going to be using them to liven up a rather dully Oozma Kappa party. In the first photo (below), you see our favorite monsters toasting to their cleverness with Blort, which appears to be a monsterized energy drink, and, in the second photo, from a scene towards the end of the short, you see what happens when Squishy's mom Sherri (Julia Sweeney) stumbles upon the out-of-control hootenanny (the party antics are so insane that the MPAA awarded it a PG rating, the first Disney short since 1990's Roger Rabbit-led short "Roller Coaster Rabbit" to garner anything above a G).
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To give anything more away would be criminal, so instead, we spoke to writer/director Kelsey Mann, the talented story supervisor from "Monsters University," who graciously talked about the inspiration for the short, the reaction the film received at D23, and how he feels about being partnered up with the Muppets.

Moviefone: When did the story for "Party Central" start to percolate? Was it hard to wrangle everybody back for this?

Kelsey Mann: It actually worked out really smoothly because towards the end of "MU," when things were starting to get approved and going into animation and layout, we started getting the idea to revisit these characters in a short form. And I started thinking of ideas, and it worked out really well because we just piggybacked on the movie. So when we would get the last little pick-up lines from Billy Crystal and then we recorded the short. It worked out seamlessly. And it not only worked like that for the voice talent but also with the animators, who rolled right out from the movie and onto the short.

Being from the story department, you guys must have had a million ideas about how this party was going to play out. Was there anything that didn't make it into the short that you desperately wanted to include?

It's funny... There's always stuff that doesn't make its way in, whether it's the movie or the short. But that's where the short came from -- from the movie. I remember, near the end, I always wanted to see their party. It's the first thing they say they want, this party. And I said, "We've got to have this in the movie! I don't care if it's in the credits. I want to see this party." The idea of doing a short came up and we thought that it was the perfect opportunity to pay off something that we wanted to do in the movie but couldn't find the right time and the right moment to do it. So it presented a perfect opportunity. When you work in story, you have these ideas that you had five years ago and they can always come back.

Was there anything that resurfaced in this?

Yeah actually... I don't want to give anything away but the ending came from an idea that we had while working on an earlier version of "Monsters University." It was a different version of the film and it was a great gag that we always loved, and when we started thinking about what could happen at the party, we thought, What if we bring back that gag from the old version of this movie? So things always come back. If it's a good idea, sometimes it's finding the right spot for it. And we found the perfect spot for it.

Were you at D23 when it premiered and brought the house down?

No I wasn't. I heard it was great. I would have loved to have been there, but at that point I had finished the short, finished the movie, and was taking a very well deserved vacation. I heard everyone loved it and really that's why you make these things -- you want people to watch it. And getting that reaction from an audience is really a wonderful thing to get as a filmmaker.

This short was meant to be paired with "Good Dinosaur," which got bumped back. Were you ever worried about when people were going to see it?

No. I knew it would be seen. And I wanted it to be seen in the right way. And with "The Good Dinosaur," it would have been really, really fun. But to have it paired with the Muppets -- that's just as awesome. I'm a huge, huge Henson fan. I grew up on the Muppets. It's one of the reasons I'm doing what I'm doing. To me, it's a perfect pair. I feel like the original "Monsters, Inc" was heavily influenced by the Henson Studios and to have it be in front of the Muppets movie is such a perfect pairing. I'm over the moon for where it ended up.

The monsters certainly share some DNA with the Henson creations.

They totally do! They totally do! We're all big fans here at Pixar -- of what they did and what they currently do.

So what are you working on now?

It's kind of the curse of working at Pixar -- you're so excited about what you're doing but you can't tell anybody about it. At least for a little while.

Is your goal to eventually direct a feature at Pixar?

It's funny you ask that -- when I originally got a job here, it took me a long time to get a position. And when I got into the story department, I thought, Oh my god, this is great. I can retire a story artist. And I can finish my career here. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would become a story supervisor. And when that opportunity came up, it was something I didn't expect. And beyond that, to even be asked to direct a short, I never thought I'd have an opportunity like that. So as far as directing a feature -- who knows what the future holds? I certainly wouldn't turn it down. I'll say that.