I went to see Up tonight with Trimom and the girls.
On paper, this was a movie that shouldn’t have worked. Pixar movies have featured bugs, toys, race cars, monsters, superheroes, robots and talking fish. This movie was a human story. The lead character is an old man, and the first ten minutes of the film are exposition about this man growing up and growing old. Aside from the iconic flying house suspended under thousands of balloons, this isn’t a movie powered by stunning visuals. Oh sure, the settings are gorgeous and beautifully rendered, but Up doesn’t feature the mind-boggling images of Wall-E or the wholly created worlds of Monsters Inc. or Cars.
What this movie does have in common with all the other Pixar films is an amazing story. With his house threatened by urban development and with the retirement home looming, Carl Fredricksen launches his house into the sky by means of thousands of helium balloons. Russell, an annoyingly eager Cub Scout, accidently comes along for the ride. They head to South America to fulfill Carl’s lifelong dream of adventure and excitement, long delayed by day-to-day life. There, they run into rare birds, talking dogs and a legendary figure from Carl’s childhood.
You feel great empathy for Carl and Russell, not because they are designed as empathetic characters, but because their stories are so compelling. You deeply care for these two strange characters. The plot is simple but powerful, and the themes are stated subtly and well. One primary theme of the story is lettting go of life’s emotional burdens, and that note is hit both narratively and visually in powerful but never obvious ways.
Go see this movie. It’s a beautiful story, funny and touching and very human.