Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Movie Review: Up

Rated: PG

Website: Up official site

Starring: voices of Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger

My Review: In its 10th movie release, Disney-Pixar manages to do it again. Not only is Up visually stunning, but the story manages to be both heartbreaking and heartwarming, often in the same moment. A bit of sentimental plucking of the heartstrings is nothing new for a Disney movie, but I found Up to be more emotionally wrenching than any of their previous offerings (and that includes when Bambi’s mother was shot).

The movie opens with a montage highlighting Carl and Ellie’s life together, from meeting as children, to marriage, to old age. Both are wannabe adventurers who dream of traveling to a mystical waterfall in South America, and when it becomes clear that they are unable to have children, they begin saving for their big adventure. But as it so often does, life gets in the way, and as the car needs new tires and the house needs a new roof, their adventure fund dwindles, and Ellie passes away before the trip ever happens. Now a crotchety old man, Carl decides to make the trek to South America on his own rather than be forced into a retirement home, and does so by floating his house there with the aid of thousands of balloons. Unfortunately, Russell, the over-eager scout of some sort who wants to earn his “assist the elderly” badge, was coming to help Carl at the time of takeoff and becomes an accidental stowaway on the trip. Once they finally touch down in South America, Carl gets to have an adventure, though it’s slightly different from the one he always imagined.

While the Disney-Pixar movies have always been a bit less juvenile than the Disney animated features of days gone by, I was surprised (but happily so) by some of the mature themes Up touched on. There’s the implication of infertility when Carl and Ellie are unable to have children, the loss of a spouse when Ellie dies, the questionable treatment of the elderly when Carl is nearly forced from his home, and a villain who apparently kills innocent intruders out of pure paranoia. If it hasn’t been made clear already, Disney-Pixar isn’t kid’s stuff, and parents should duly note the PG ratings attached to their movies. There are message boards all over the Internet with parents whining about “how am I supposed to explain the concept of infertility to my 4-year-old?” My response: Why did you bring a 4-year-old to a PG movie? Disney-Pixar already killed Nemo’s mother, had Syndrome attempt to assassinate the Incredible children, and dealt with abandonment issues in Toy Story 2; they’re making family movies for thinking families with older children. And I hope they keep up the good work.

Bottom Line: The latest in a long line of homeruns, Up is another excellent offering from Disney-Pixar. But be sure to slip a tissue in your pocket before you go. If you don’t at least tear up during the opening montage, you may be a sociopath. Thank god for those 3D glasses; not only are they fashionable, but the easily hide the fact that a 29-year-old is sobbing during a cartoon.

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