Monday, June 1, 2009
Up has been heavily marketed for quite some time. The early pictures of a house flying on balloons coupled with more recent commercials showing some funny moments from the movie made it quite clear what this was; a light-hearted, fun, funny movie mostly targeted at the younger demographic.
And so it starts out to be. The sequences of young Carl Fredricksen (Jeremy Leary) worshipping his adventuresome idol Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer) and meeting the equally star-struck and hysterical Ellie (Elie Docter) are everything you were expecting.
You are quickly drawn into the story. The plot is fast-moving, the jokes plentiful, and the classic Disney heart/charm fully in place.
Then, something funny happens. There is a sequence that is quite heart-breaking. With schmaltzy music, they do a montage of Carl and Ellie growing up, getting married, getting ready to have a baby...and then the baby dying, probably a miscarriage. Then Ellie dies.
What? Seriously? It is not that death has not entered feel-good animation before...in Finding Nemo the mother fish and all but one egg are killed. But that was off-screen and by implication.
Okay, so technically it is off-screen and by implication here, too, but it is much more heavy-handed and with tremendous impact. Not a few snuffles were heard in the theatre, and rightfully so.
On the one hand, that is a very good thing. It means you care about the lead characters. On the other hand...it just did not feel right for a movie targeted at the younger set.
End of Spoiler
Now in his retirement years, Carl (Edward Asner) is ready to move on. He decides to complete his childhood promise to Ellie to go to Paradise Falls where Muntz disappeared. This is where the famous house on balloons scenes come in.
Along with young do-gooder Russell (Jordan Nagai) who stows away unintentionally, he flies to South America. The rest of the movie is primarily his struggle to get the house to the dream location.
Problems crop up when a mysterious bird and several dogs get involved, leading Carl to get involved in the fight to protect the bird, Kevin, from a mysterious pack of dogs with collars that allow them to talk.
Eventually he meets the villain, changes his mind, helps Russell and Kevin battle the villains and brings it all home to a satisfying conclusion.
This movie works on many levels. It has a solid message about realizing that the dream you thought you had may not be the one you get, but that does not mean you should be disappointed. It also carried a nice message about not being so caught up in your own wants that you forget to care for and help others.
It also provided plenty of humor and had a nice story line that was quite entertaining while also being full of heart. The animation was well done, the characters fun and engaging and, most importantly, likable.
If you like good animation and/or soft comedy, this movie is an excellent choice and I highly recommend it.