We went to see Disney/Pixar’s “Up” on opening night. I’m glad I waited until the next morning to write this review because I needed time to reflect on the depth of this movie and not react to my initial response to the film. Yes, you read that right, I said “depth”.
Pixar has always been known for creating stories that include moral dilemmas and the characters response to those dilemmas is what beautifully fleshes out the stories. Every Pixar film is visually stunning, musically amazing, emotionally diverse and highly entertaining. Even deeper than that is the fact that every Pixar film, when looked at on a deeper level, would preach on a Sunday morning-and “Up” is no different.
The story of “Up” is more like a fine piece of art or literature than a children’s animated film. The exceptional use of color, symbolism, regret and humor weave together in the beautiful tapestry of “Up”. The moral themes that run simultaneously throughout this movie are dream big but don’t let unfulfilled dreams fill you with regret, keep your promises, respect others, people/friends/animals are all more important than things, spend quality time with your kids, and love conquers all fears.
**Spoiler Alert-next 4 paragraphs**The movie begins when Carl and Ellie are children dreaming of following in the footsteps of famed explorer Charles Muntz. A beautifully scored montage follows the opening scene. In the montage we follow Carl and Ellie through their life as they marry, continue to dream of adventure, hope and plan for a family that they never have, save money in their adventure fund, and subsequently raid that fund for unexpected needs that arise in life. Carl and Ellie grow old together, still dreaming of adventure, Ellie gets sick and eventually passes away and Carl is left alone in an empty church. Then the movie truly begins. Yes, the opening sequence is somewhat long, yet necessary to create the foundation for the story that ensues.
Carl goes home to try and live life without Ellie, who has been his companion for 70 years. This is when Russell, a Wilderness Scout comes into his life. Russell, whom we later learn is in need of a father figure in his life, just wants to get his “Assisting the Elderly” badge so he can promote to Senior Wilderness Scout.
Throughout the film Carl’s character is filled with loss and regret while Russell balances that with his energy, hope and the strong moral compass that has be instilled in him as he has worked on each of his Wilderness Scout badges.
Last night I had shared with some people that this film was rated PG for a reason and I would not take anyone under age 8. Though my reason isn’t exactly the same as that of those that rated the film. Officially “Up” was rated PG for peril and action, yes characters are often in perilous situations and there is a lot of action-though often comedic, throughout the movie. Personally my feelings on this is the theme of death that flows through the film. Though it is artistically portrayed (and most young children won’t get it), Ellie suffers a miscarriage. Ellie gets sick and dies, multiple dogs presumably fall to their death and in the end Charles Muntz falls to his death-though no impact is shown, just implied.
There are also scary elements to this movie-scary dogs baring teeth and growling, one character trying to kill another, dogs attacking other characters. After some of these attacks there is blood, though it is in no way gory.
The action scenes are well choreographed and in the sword fight scene our geriatric superhero uses the tools at his disposal, his cane and the 4 tennis balls attached to its feet, to fight off his much better armed attackers.
The movie stars Ed Asner as Carl Fredricksen, Christopher Plummer as Charles Muntz, Jordan Nagai as Russell and Bob Peterson as Dug the dog. Pixar fans know that John Ratzenberger has at least had a cameo in every Pixar film and “Up” continues that tradition. We went to an evening showing of the film and the audience was mostly adults, tweens and teens-many of whom know of Ratzenberger’s appearances in Pixar films. When his character began to speak, many in the audience laughed out loud-not because his lines were funny but because they were caught off guard by his appearance.
I can’t wait to see this movie again, though I will not pay the $3.00 extra a ticket to see it in 3D-it just isn’t worth it. In case you have somehow missed seeing the trailers for up, I am including a link to the long one that includes clips from some of the more intense scenes so that you can make the decision for your family. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hr32TzpOA9k