Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Up (2009)


Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) decides to fulfill his lifelong dream of heading to Paradise Falls in South America, following in the footsteps of childhood hero, explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer).

As an animated film it's hard to classify Up as a family film, giving some mature subject matter, but at the same time it still retains a certain charm and silliness directed towards more family audiences. Up surprisingly enough deals with a man's attempt to regain a long lost dream, something so important to the film they spend the first 20 minutes developing. As a family film kids will probably be detached from the opening portion as it deals with financial struggles, first love, children troubles, and loss... in the meantime their parents will probably be fighting back a river of tears. The rest of the film is far more family oriented, heavy on action and adventure, compounded with silly characters and extreme situations.

In this up finds a nice little niche for the film to work on. With the introduction of a few plot points Up manages to be silly, action packed, and maintain that subtle message it tries to bring home. Though the message is a bit clouded towards the end, it becomes apparent that Up wishes to inspire a desire to find adventure in all aspects of life, even the mundane and formulaic. As such Up walks the fine line between adventure and character piece. Carl's accidental partner in this adventure, the well meaning Wilderness Explorer (a play on boy scouts I guess) Russell (voiced well by first time Jordan Nagai), forces Carl to make tough decisions and to begin to recognize the many layers of his deep personality.

As far as entertainment goes, Up just about has it all. Talking dogs, with silly voices and actions to get the kids laughing, over the top action scenes that could only work in the animated realm, and a bunch of fun situations to get everyone into the film. That's probably why Up will be a shoe in for the best animated picture (unless it gets nulled out by a best picture nomination). Up can appeal to just about anyone, and is deep enough it provides its younger audience with intellectual challenges that exceed oh look pretty explosion. The characters provide solid morality tales that have the potential for sustaining value, giving the audience an opportunity to connect, debate, and internalize the film. In return Up becomes a more personal film for the viewer, giving it that much desired staying power, and a film that can be easily revisited with little worry of loss in entertainment.

Going beyond typical family film conformity, Up finds a beautiful medium between mature subject matter and family friendly entertainment that can appease all viewers... I hate to say it, but Pixar does it again.

3 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

Loved UP, especially for the way (as you mentioned) it uses a kid-friendly medium to tell a very grown-up message.

Curious though, this came out back in June...did you only just get to see it??

PS - Case you were curious, this was my take.

Univarn said...

@Mad Sadly enough yes. I didn't have any money to see it at the time, then when I did school kicked up again and I got busy and it was nearing film-dvd limbo with the impending DVD release I caught it a couple weeks back at a small local dollar theater.

Anonymous said...

I think it's such a thematically rich movie that anyone can find something to connect to.

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