June 1, 2009

Up Review

An unnecessary review, why spend so much time on a kid’s movie? Because people are for some reason loving this movie. And I have to say there’s something strange and sort of wrong that there were more adults at the screening for Up than parents with kids – including Ray Liotta, though he was with his kids.

I can deal with the fact that in the first ten minutes you find out the wife is barren and can’t have children – even though my daughter looked over at me and asked, “Why is she crying,” when she’s weeping in the doctor’s office. What do you answer to a six-year-old – because she can’t have children: she doesn’t yet know that people are unable to have children, and it’s not really necessary for her to know that. Certainly not within the confines of a children’s movie. You could say it’s good that these movies toughen kids up for the real world, but there is so much that is fantastical in this movie that the juxtaposition is beyond comic relief to being totally uneven. And then the wife dies.

But that’s not my problem with the movie. The movie’s about unfulfilled dreams – the wife dreams of going to an exotic locale in South America, so the husband attaches balloons to his house to fly there after she dies. Great! Imagination run wild! A fine premise. But when he gets to South America he finds that his and his wife’s childhood hero, an explorer, turns out to be a sinister villain.

So what is the lesson here? Don’t meet your heroes because they are not as good as they seem. OK, that’s a possible lesson – but it’s sandwiched onto a message of unfulfilled dreams. And the explorer also happens to be highly inventive – he’s invented a collar so dogs can speak. These dogs are also capable of flying airplanes. It’s another triumph of the imagination, except the explorer inexplicably is bent on killing the old man. It’s totally disappointing.

The movie would have been fine if maybe the old explorer gets hurt and needs to be saved somehow, rather than him dying from falling out of the sky, which is how this movie ends – a fight scene that had the kid next to me crying in fear. Why turn the explorer into a villain - the old man takes an entire lifetime to break away from the confines of his life, only to be pursued by someone who wants to kill him. It would have made a lot more sense for the old man and the explorer to commiserate somehow - to invent something together, not just become a routine chase movie, in which you're worried about an old man, a child, a flightless bird and her children, all being killed.

Why both writing a serious review? Because it was the first time my daughter left a movie and said, “I didn’t like that.” A movie cliche I would like to end right now: everything’s going great for the characters, they finally have a chance to relax – and inevitably something terrible happens. The characters don’t get five seconds to enjoy themselves. That’s why my daughter didn’t like this. I don’t want to use the word “bleak” or “dark” because that makes it sound kind of deep and she couldn’t take the imagery. It’s got talking dogs, it’s fundamentally silly, not a realistic portrait. The problem is because its bleakness is boring and frustrating and doesn’t fit the rest of the story.

All in all, I think this is an example of critics don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Because, you know, I’m right and they’re wrong. I think maybe they’re just desperate to like something, but all the positive reviews – in newspapers, IMDB, and Twitter, is kind of depressing. The movie has some problems.


Anonymous said...

this movie is so beautiful. Just because pixar doesn't make another kids movie doesn't mean that Up sucks. Protecting kids from the real world and coddling them will make them weak. I think that its beautiful that this movie isn't another Disney flick where the characters live happily ending lives. The movie is fantasy and reality cleverly combined.

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