A Review by Jason L. King
Starring: Ed Asner, Delroy Lindo
Directed by: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Rated: PG for mild peril
Movie Released: 2009
Every 2 years or so, a critic somewhere in the world shouts, “Pixar did it again!” Nine times out of ten this is a good thing. In fact, I’m actually prone to believe that the phrase “Pixar does it again!” is so stuck in a critics brain, they just can’t find a way of speaking poorly about a Pixar film. And to be honest, when you look at their track record, Pixar has had a long history of success that is nothing to sneeze at. Every original character they have come up with has been a hit. Pixar took on one of their biggest challenges in 2009 by making a cranky old man and his balloon filled flying house another Pixar success.
UP made its way into theaters in 3-D planning to blow us away with its looks and a animation style that only Pixar could create to true perfection. The film was released in both 2-D and 3-D versions (my viewing experience was only in 2-D). The film centers around this cranky old man’s journey across the continent to go live alone on a cliff near a waterfall. Much of the excitement is the way he fills his house with colorful balloons and journeys across the world to this place. Now, I am sure that from an animated standpoint, animating this much color and making the beautiful landscape took some time. Please, don’t get me wrong on that note. However, I didn’t find it to be as mind blowing as every one said it would be.
I had a very hard time connecting with the characters and I felt that as a younger viewer, they would have a hard time really connecting with on as well. Perhaps the high point of the film was Dug, the dog who was able to talk (due to a special collar he had). The dog adds the comic relief that the film needs to continue to span its run time.
As with nearly all Pixar films, there has to be a theme that every kid must learn by the end. In UP, the theme is a tale of true love and loss, as well as giving others a chance and taking chances yourself. The problem is, I question if most kids are going to get this theme. If the theme was meant for adults, I think they will dismiss it easily. I felt UP spent too much time trying to hammer this in my brain, and not enough time just having some good old fashioned, family escapist fun. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed Monsters Vs. Aliens more this year. As an adult viewer I also had a huge problem with the scrapbook scene at the end. I mean c’mon….is he that dumb?
In the end, I’ll use the phrase “Pixar does it again!” for perhaps the 1st time in 10 years that isn’t necessarily in a positive light. Pixar did do it again, they made another film that brainwashed critics will love, the public will be told that they have to love and the great “Disney Brainwash Experiment” continues. While I didn’t hate UP in any way, I certainly don’t think it deserves all the amazing hype it is getting.
UP is a very good movie for your family movie night. It is something you can sit down with the kids, pop some popcorn and have a good time. Just don’t go into the movie thinking it is the best thing ever made and you’ll have a good time!