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Up
May 31, 2009

Up poster

Went to see Pixar’s newest, Up, this morning. As expected, it’s an instant classic, full of amazing images and touching moments.

However, I was surprised at just what they put into the story. I don’t cry easily at movies, but within the first 15 minutes, I was bawling. I wound up crying at least three more times, too, for different reasons.

The movie starts with a wordless section showing the life together of Carl (played by Ed Asner) and Ellie, from their meeting as kids to her eventual death. I knew going in that the film was about a grumpy old man who sets his home afloat with a huge bunch of balloons, but I didn’t expect the emotional punch of seeing who he was and who he became and why.

Ed Asner and Carl

It’s all necessary to the story, and many threads are picked up again later. But I suspect there may be some upset parents this summer when they come out of the latest Disney cartoon, advertised as an adventure with plenty of color, and have to explain some unpleasant concepts to their kids. Is this the first Pixar movie with death played so prominently? It’s not just that departure, but the kid, Russell (Jordan Nagai), has an absent father whose lack has driven him into seeking more scouting achievements. I wonder if this might make repeat business troublesome.

Up poster (characters)

Oh, once the balloons take off, there’s plenty of action and comedy and wow! moments. Especially once the talking dogs show up. (I love Dug! “Squirrel!”) There’s a lot more here for adults, though, in the themes and messages. It’s the best Pixar yet, even better than Wall*E.

Maybe it hit me so hard because I fear becoming Carl, alone and crotchety. Still, it’s a wonderful movie about following dreams at the same time it cautions against letting them become obsessions. I should remember the happy times, as Ellie and Carl had. And the talking dog!

Ellie and Carl

13 Responses  
thekamisama writes:  

I was thinking this movie was going to be eye candy and comedy due to the commercials. Good to know Pixar still has yet to succumb to the safe, sanitized, Disney model. Now I guess I will go take the family to see it.

 
Rivkah writes:  

Your review definitely makes this one sound way better than the previews did. Their addressing serious issues such as death and the emotional distance of a parent actually makes me want to go see it.

The story itself feels very Miyazaki based, actually.

 
Johanna writes:  

Wow, I hadn’t considered someone not seeing a new Pixar film. I guess I’ve been brainwashed by their quality.

Yes, Miyazaki is a great comparison.

I was worried I’d said too much — I really benefited from knowing very little about the film before I saw it.

 
Roger A. writes:  

“Is this the first Pixar movie with death played so prominently?”

In my opinion, no. Nemo’s mother dies very early into Finding Nemo and how this affects Marlin informs his outlook on life and his relationship with Nemo.

 
Sebastian writes:  

Sounds great. I’d love to watch it now, but I have to wait until end of September, because that’s when the movie will finally come to theatres here. It’s sad, looking at some of those international release dates: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1049413/releaseinfo

And it’s just a little ironic, after seeing your comparison with Miyazaki, that Japan will be the last country to get the movie, in mid-December… ^^;

 
Johanna writes:  

Oh, man, that’s just an invitation for fans to find other ways to see it while it’s being talked about.

 
Argo Plummer writes:  

My wife and I took the kids to see it yesterday. We all loved it. I teared up many times, and my wife, who is usually far less affected by emotional movies, was bawling early and often–sounds like you two had similar reactions.

As parents, we were a bit surprised at what was dealt with in the opening minutes, but we know plenty of people who have had
SPOILER

fertiltiy problems and as I have revealed before, we are dealing with my father’s terminal illness,

SPOILER OVER
so our kids weren’t as affected as we were.

We try to discuss anything like that with them, and they both seemed to understand not only that there are hard and sad times in life, but also that life isn’t defined by those alone.

Anyway, I was way down on Pixar lately. Hadn’t loved a movie since Nemo (or Incredibles–can’t remember which came first) and actually disliked Wall*E. Found it very boring and really just another installment in the Hollywood trope of Schluby guy with a heart of gold who gets a girl way out of his league who would actually never look at him to fall in love. Kinda like Knocked Up with robots.

Anyway, after this, Pixar is back in my opinion. I’m aware that this could be reactionary, but right now, I think this was Pixar’s best movie to date, and the best movie I have seen in the theatres in a couple of years.

 
Argo Plummer writes:  

Also, the absentee Dad thing, while heavy and sad, it another reality of life that our kids are sadly too aware of–they both know families who have absentee parents.

Also, good point by Roger A. that Nemo deals with death pretty prominently as well. My mother took our oldest son, who was not quite three yet, to see it in the theater and after the opening scene, he turned to my Mom and asked her, “What happened to his Mom?”

That was the last movie my Mom took the kids to by herself.

 
sir jorge writes:  

the first fifteen made me cry…carl ending up alone and all.

I am a tech worker and i spent 8 hours a lone daily…i fear that I am carl for 40 hours a day 365 days a year.

 
Johanna writes:  

I think the description of Wall*E as “Knocked Up with robots” will never leave me. :) I’m glad the kids loved it.

 
Up on DVD » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] loved Up when I first saw it in theaters this summer, so I knew that I wanted to own it when it was released on DVD. I just wish […]

 
Ponyo » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] alien. The “silent” storytelling at the beginning, like the openings of Wall-E or Up, is a startlingly impressive sequence with only music and sound effects to introduce viewers to the […]

 
Interview With Ed Asner, Granny Goodness in Superman/Batman Apocalypse » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] film/TV productions.) Asner’s stirring, funny, wonderful portrayal of Carl Fredrickson in Disney/Pixar’s Up had critics wondering why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences had yet to add a voice […]

 

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