Cast: Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson,
Director: Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson (co-director)
Running time: 96 minutes
Pixar are notorious for creating magnificent pieces of visual work with suitably moving storylines to accompany the animation and soundtrack, thereby undoubtedly producing spellbinding works of art. I am hoping that my previous needlessly complex sentence construction will go somewhat towards explaining how the facets of this film mean to do well when put together, but ultimately don’t manage to cut the mustard. Don’t get me wrong, Up feels like it should do well. But, for some reason, I just can’t get the Pixar magic out of this production.
I don’t usually give away the details to the review so up front, but I fear I’m one of the few people who really didn’t think this film did as well as it could have. So, I’m offering you the chance to click away before you start baying for my blood any more than you really should be.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can begin. What happens when you put together a little fat kid, an OAP, many bright colours, no storyline and a floating house being pulled by a piece of rope? Answer: a film that hasn’t been assembled well at all. It appears that the writers for Up got a little lazy when it came to the story actually having any meaning. Pixar are usually very good at reminding you to treasure your friends and/or loved ones, or to treat people well or be kind to one another. After watching this though, I haven’t got a clue what the moral of this film is at all.
It begins with a tediously long montage of the old man’s life. Do be warned; this goes on for about ten minutes. You apparently need to know how monotonously boring his life was with his wife Ellie before she dies (they don’t seem to have any other friends – did anyone else notice this?). Even the Rocky training montage was only a couple of minutes long. Maybe three and a half, at most. You are then introduced to the annoying little fat kid, Russell. This is the type of kid who you’d imagine to snort in his sleep. The kind of kid who when eating his food not only likes to show you the deluge of mush in his mouth, but will also make sure he’s carrying his lunch around with him on his t-shirt for the rest of the day. Basically, he’s useless. And, I feel as though Pixar put him in there for comedy value rather than anything of worth – simply because he’s a little fat kid. You’re supposed to be laughing at him, rather than with him. Haven’t we got past this attitude yet?
(May I please add here that it pains me to do this…)
So the scene is set. The old man and the fat kid are off on an adventure. Except, at no point are you told this. Now, I’m not stupid, but even the suggestion of the old man wanting to go on an adventure isn’t there. He just ties a few hundred (maybe thousand?) helium balloons to his house and you have to accept it. Much like the rest of the film – stuff happens in no particular order or for no particular reason and you just have to accept it. And, I think this is what made me dislike the film. When watching Finding Nemo, you are aware from the start that the father is off to find his fishy son; cue the adventure. In Ratatouille, the boy needs to learn how to cook to keep his job; cue the mousey help and the kitchen adventure. In Monster’s Inc., they have to get the little girl back through her door; cue the monster fun.
I could go on, but I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at. There is no ultimate driving factor for this film to be taking place. There’s no story arc, no real character development and the annoying little eight-year-old fat kid has found a friend in a 78-year-old man. So, basically, if he wasn’t going to get the living b’Jesus kicked out of him for being a complete and utter pain in the a***, he sure as hell will now, Pixar, given that his only friend is a mere sneeze away from having drinks with the Grim Reaper.
I’m not convinced this is supposed to be a children’s film either. Not only does the film deal quite starkly with death being the overall theme in the first twenty minutes, but there are a number of issues that children just don’t need to see in an animated film. Carl (sorry, this is the old man’s name and I probably should have used it earlier) is facing his house about to be repossessed. His lifelong house with all his memories of his dead wife Ellie is about to be destroyed. If that isn’t enough, he gets so depressed with it all that he tries to set fire to it later! His beloved house! Oh, and by the way, during the course of their marriage they weren’t able to have children – despite trying – and, later, he loses his teeth. This film is centred around death and is actually quite sad. Now, if you didn’t click away when I asked you to a few paragraphs ago and still think I’m talking nonsense, then fair play to you.
But, I just couldn’t get my head around this film and I was excited about it for so long. There are talking dogs that are just a little ill-thought out and are supposed to be the antagonists to whatever story has developed. Let’s not forget the nonsensical (female) bird called Kevin. And you know what? I laughed out very loudly when Russell named this bird Kevin. And do you know why? Because that is exactly the sort of humour I expect (and love) from Pixar. It’s simple and it makes sense because kids get away with anything. Up is a little too complex and is just badly organised to be of the usual Pixar standard. Sorry guys and gals. I thought this was going to be a lot better.
I await Toy Story 3 with much anticipation.
Up gets an appalling 2 out of 5 from me.