I didn’t get a chance to see a movie in the theaters this week, so I’m going to review “Up”, the most recent film by Pixar. I highly suggest you rent it.
“Up” is the story of Carl Fredricksen, a 70+ year old man who decides to fulfill his promise to his wife and take “them” to Paradise Falls, Venezuala. They had dreamed of going there ever since they meet as children; they fantasize of following in the footsteps of their hero, Charles Muntz, an explorer. The first 20 minutes of this movie are just amazing. The entire back-story of Carl and Ellie, his wife, is told beautifully. It’s funny and touching and sad; half the audience in tears by the end of the sequence. The movie continued to raise the bar, and got better and better as it went. Though the first sequence was very sad, the movie realizes it and works to lighten the mood. But it isn’t forced. The humor in this movie is smart and yet childlike. I found myself laughing at things I would have laughed at when I was a kid; Pixar has realized from the beginning that some humor can be shared no matter your age, and they really capitalize on this realization in this movie specifically. But the loneliness Carl still feels after having lost his wife is very apparent, and we immediately fall in love with his character. His house is all he has left; he and Ellie had fixed it up together, and it’s obvious immediately that he treats it as though she’s a part of it. But after Carl is told he must leave the house and be relocated to a retirement home, he decides to take the house to Paradise Falls.
Now’s where things got really good. We meet a “wilderness explorer” (Pixar’s version of a Boy Scout) named Russell who Carl unknowingly brought with him when he uprooted the house, a rare tropical bird named “Kevin”, and a talking dog named Dug. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t turn into one of those annoying talking animal movies like Kung Fu Panda or something. Just trust me.) The characters are wacky and hilarious, and all, but especially the human ones, are well written and given real personalities and real problems.
I’d like to include the thoughts I had when I saw this at UNH. It was shown on a screen outside, and about 350 kids came. And the audience was fantastic. They were completely captivated the entire time. Everyone laughed at every joke; anyone walking by would have thought we were watching a movie like “Superbad”, or “40 Year Old Virgin”. The crowd was guys and girls, freshman through seniors. It made me stop watching sometimes and think about the idea of it all. For an hour and a half, three hundred 20+ year olds weren’t 20; they were 10, laughing at a talking dog and a giant bird and a little boy and an old man. For an hour and a half, the pressures of being 20 and in college didn’t exist. They were captivated, transported to an age and a time they forgot ever happened now that they’re in college and have got alcohol to drink and weed to smoke. For an hour and a half we were an audience of one mind, one shared experience, but still 300 separate children reliving a time that got pushed aside to make room for what we think it means to be an adult. Reliving the days when we’d go to the movies with Mom and Dad and would be introduced to Woody and Buzz, or watch Simba take on Scar, or witness Aladdin rub the lamp for the first time. It made me wonder how it is that a movie can do so much to someone. It’s such a shared experience to see one; you’re part of something bigger then yourself, bigger than any one person. There are few experiences out there that are so widespread. Harry Potter did it for books. Only a few TV shows have truly done it. Movies are something very unique, they have a feeling that can’t be duplicated. When I watched “Up” I couldn’t help but wish the guys who made it could have been there watching the effect it had on us. It takes one heck of a movie to make kids my age be so captivated, so enthralled in what they’re watching that they can forget their age and the pressures of college and just be a kid, like they were 10 years old again.
Images Up a Pixar/Walt Disney Pictures (c) courtesy
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