Monday, September 28, 2009


My daughter went to see Up today with some other members of the family, old and young, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd heard it was good too, so tonight my younger son and I went. He's great to go to a funny movie with: he just gets on and laughs uninhibitedly, which makes everyone else relax.

And there's plenty to laugh at in this movie. As with all Pixar productions, it's full of detail, and the storyline is satisfying. And it has its emotional moments too. Apparently my nearly-three-year-old grandson said when the main character's wife died very early in the piece: that's very sad, isn't it, Mum? Now this young fellow's astute, but it's still interesting that at his age he picked up on what happened since it's not spelled out.

Most movie buffs will be familiar with the story, even if they haven't seen the movie yet. An old and lonely man, Carl Fredricksen, decides that rather than have his house torn down - and himself carted off to a 'retirement village' - he will tie hundreds of helium balloons to the house and sail off to Paradise Falls in South America, the place where his childhood hero, Charles Muntz - a famous explorer - was last known to have gone. Inadvertently he takes along with him a little boy, a seemingly annoying child looking to get his final Wilderness Explorer badge. Incredibly, they find their way to Paradise Falls, and discover the explorer still alive - but not quite the hero he's been made out to be.

Of course there's humour in such an odd couple, and even more humour when the various dog characters make their appearance. It would spoil the movie to tell any of the jokes, but suffice to say there are plenty of them to suit all sorts of tastes.

The animation is more in line with The Incredibles than the Toy Story series (a third episode of which was being advertised at this movie). The various humans are human enough, but also strongly caricatured (and the bit 'players' have faces very similar to those of bit players in The Incredibles). The dogs are wonderfully done, full of dogginess, and true to their natures. Only the bird, Kevin, seems a little out of tune with the movie. Perhaps it's because it's the brightest creature on the block (colour-wise that is, not intelligence-wise), it stands out against the mostly muted background colours. This is hardly a flaw in the movie, however, and most likely the strong difference is intentional.

When I first saw The Incredibles I was rather disappointed: it seemed overlong, and lacking in humour. Subsequent viewings from our hard drive copy has shown that the pleasures in it grow with each viewing. Hopefully Up, which appeals much more readily on first viewing, won't lose the flavour on further viewings.

I mustn't forget to mention the short film that accompanied Up. Partly Cloudy takes a wonderfully simple idea - storks delivering babies (all kinds of babies, human, animal and scary) - and shows how these babies are produced by some delightful cloud beings up in the sky, including one who seems only able to produce slightly off-the-wall creatures. His stork is constantly in danger of being damaged by whatever new 'baby' arrives. And that's pretty much it. But it's a wonderful idea superbly executed, and if your cinema isn't showing it along with the main feature, complain to the management.

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