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Movie: UP

December 27, 2009

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?

Categories: Movies, Reviews
  1. December 27, 2009 at 22:07 | #1

    I saw this almost by accident, in June.  My friend David and I were looking for a film to see, and all the ones that first caught our eyes were either in progress or started too late.  So we “settled” on Up, and we were thrilled.  SO enjoyable, and the message was both clear and wonderful.

  2. December 28, 2009 at 00:01 | #2

    You know, on reflection there was one thing I liked a LOT about that movie, and it was the real-world consequences that happened when the old man hit the construction worker with his cane.  In most cartoons, people hit each other all the time but nothing much comes of it.  That scene, and the ones following, were dead-on realistic; the worker staggering and finding his forehead bloodied, his co-workers rushing to his aid, the old man running inside the house and drawing the drapes, afraid of what he’d done, the court appearance, the loss of his bargaining position with the real estate developer.

  3. December 28, 2009 at 10:30 | #3

    An excellent point George and I think that’s one thing people appreciated about the movie. The creators did an amazing job setting the scene in the beginning and captivating the audience. I enjoy movies that are able to do this.

  4. MrQ
    December 28, 2009 at 13:02 | #4

    This summer I had a chance to go see either Up or Ice Age 3 with my 7 and 10 YO daughters. I talked them into seeing Up and we all enjoyed the movie. I explained that the movie works on different levels (never stop chasing your dreams, stand up for your principles, etc) and they seemed to get it. As a matter of fact, they want me to buy the DVD and I will once the price drops.
    Almost the same story with Wall-E except the competing movie at that time was Kung-Fu Panda; they won out and we saw Kung-Fu Panda. Eventually we did see Wall-E and ended up purchasing the DVD because they were asking for it and I also enjoyed the movie. Thankfully, no requests to purchase Kung-Fu Panda.
    Up/Wall-e are both remarkable movies that work beyond the surface of the excellent animation. Deep messages of life for the younger ones (and even the older ones), you just gotta look for them.

  5. December 29, 2009 at 15:44 | #5

    my boys liked it so much, they used their allowances to buy the DVD. I thought it was great too – in the last ten years most of the movies I’ve seen have been animations (funny that) and this was one of the best.

  6. January 30, 2010 at 04:12 | #6

    I think that’s one thing people appreciated about the movie.The creators did an amazing job setting the scene in the beginning and captivating the audience.

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