MrsDoF and I just watched the Pixar animated movie UP. She asked for the movie for Christmas and I must have dutifully bought it for her, and wrapped it, but then had a “Did I leave the iron on” moment of self doubt over whether I got the right movie. When she unwrapped it, I was relieved.
The story is about an old man who ties balloons to his house and floats away for an adventure, with a little kid from the neighbourhood. In the beginning it’s a bit slow (more on that in a moment) and toward the end there’s more dialogue and full-on Indiana Jones levels of action. I wonder if it might even be too intense for young children, but it’s been a while since I watched a movie with young children.
I hope that kids who see it will catch some understanding of the sense of loss that accompanies advancing age; people with AARP cards will certainly catch on. But the story is also about renewal and finding the good even if your original goal wasn’t accomplished. Like most movies aimed at kids, it isn’t particularly subtle.
At the beginning the movie feels like an indy animation project; almost no dialogue and storytelling almost exclusively by pictures. I’ve seen lots of independent animation projects that used this technique but on big-budget animations only Wall-E and UP. I hope to see more of this kind of visual storytelling in the future. Only kids’ response to it will tell.
You may have heard that the movie sets an amazing standard for animation and this is true. Also amazing is how the cartoon characters fit into a photo-realistic cartoon environment.
In his book, Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud discusses how identifying with characters is easier when the characters are visually abstracted. (Maybe this explains the appeal of XKCD! Well that and the incredibly original writing) And sure enough, despite the photorealistic animation, the characters are cartoony enough.
While the visualisation is realistic, the story isn’t on most levels; both toon physics and toon probability applies. But hey, it’s a cartoon! Has anyone shown it to their kids? Did the kids like it?