Friday, May 29, 2009
UP will bring you DOWN
Mini-chica and I are fresh from our matinée viewing of Pixar's Up.
First off, we paid the extra coin to see the "digital 3D" version of Up, which was a waste really, so I don't recommend it. Whatever 3D sight gags and eye candy that were in there just felt like they were thrown in for the sake of saying "it's in 3D!", and little more. Save your money and see the regular screen version.
From my title you might be asking yourself, "What's up?", and no, there's no pun intended. Oh yeah, spoilers and what-not abound, you've been warned. Following on the heels of Wall-E and the serious undertones therein, Up opens with a montage (beautifully done) of a wordless tale of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl get married, girl is unable to have children, boy and girl grow old and gray together, girl dies leaving boy (now old man) all alone to face his own mortality. Throw in the fact that the house they have lived in for sixty plus years is now facing foreclosure and demolition for the sake of constructing skyscrapers. In a fit of rage, the old man, Carl, whacks a construction worker over the head with his cane, knocking him senseless...and bloody. The police are called and he is committed to a retirement community against his will. Oh, and the house will now be demolished. Sounds marvelously uplifting doesn't it? And that's just the first ten minutes.
Obviously he steals away in his home, now augmented as a flying dirigible with as much homage visually and narratively as one can pay to film great Hayao Miyazaki without blatantly ripping him off. Along the way he encounters a stowaway, a Boy Scout equivalent whose own background is equally depressing; a broken home with a father who now ignores him continuously and has moved on with a new family, yet the kid still thinks his Dad will man up, but never does. So these two lost souls are joined together in the old man's allegoric journey to reunite himself with his wife in heaven.
There are positive nuggets in the movie. The entire beginning opens up with a great, pulp era bit on adventure and exploration. The goal in the movie itself is to get to the "lost land time forgot" in the jungles of South America (another lifelong dream of the dead wife which went unfulfilled by the way). There's a Kirk Douglas type antagonist who is enjoyable, and his throngs of "speaking" dogs are cute, as is the other misfits our heroes pick up along the way, but it was hard to pull out from under the dark cloud of introspective depression the film seems to enjoy keeping you in.
Does it have a "happy ending"? Sure, I guess. Does the realistic settings you find the characters in refreshing from the happy-go-lucky worlds most animated films exist in? Yeah, but just 'cause you can do it doesn't mean you always should. Was it enjoyable, was it a good flick? Sure, it wasn't the best Pixar flick by a long shot, but it was somewhat enjoyable. It told a good, if dark, story and had plenty of visual treats, and an epilogue during the credits that let you know that the old man accepted his fate and found new purpose.
As a side note, the new animated short, Partly Cloudy, was thoroughly enjoyable