The Night Out: Up (2009), or Something Warm And Fond

31 05 2009

Another day, another lovely weekend, another movie. Up, Pixar’s newest heartwarmer, shows the company’s willingness to take some risks. Featuring a cast of hitherto unknowns anchored by veteran voice actor Ed Asner, a script that features family movie taboos like death, loneliness, and broken households, as well as a premise that’s not instantly toy-friendly, Pixar is really bending the envelope of what is considered “appropriate for the whole family”. And I mean that in the best way, because if any niche in the movie industry needs a kick in the pants, it’s the family section.

It’s a breathtaking story about finding the important things in life before it’s too late. Carl and Ellie, in their youth, dreamed of taking a wondrous journey to the lost South American vistas of Paradise Falls. It was the thing that brought them together in their youth, and it was a dream that stayed with them their entire lives. But life gets in the way, as it often does, and they kept postponing the trip well into their old age, to the point that by the time they were elderly, they still had not gone on their adventure. Carl, remembering the joy they had felt in their adolescence when they talked about it, decides to buy some plane tickets to South America to begin the voyage they had always dreamed of. But, alas, Ellie would not see the day when they would make it to Paradise Falls. She fell ill and passed away shortly after he bought the tickets. Carl, devastated, decides that he ought to have the adventure for both of them, so he spends all of one night blowing up helium balloons until he has enough to lift his house!!! So off he sails from North to South America, in search of adventure and a place to set down his house right next to Paradise Falls. Little does he know that he unwittingly picked up a hitchhiker in the form of a Boy Scout hoping to assist an elderly person still on his front porch!!!

The film is extremely heartfelt. I haven’t felt so good during a family film since the LAST Pixar film, WALL-E. Up is a simple story about finding what’s right in front of your eyes, the thrill of discovery giving way to the thrill of being with the one you’re with. I liked this movie a lot, and with the love of my life, the amazing Bren, right next to me, I got a little teary-eyed thinking about us growing old with one another. Carl and Ellie have that timeless love, the kind of love that exists only very rarely, where one partner is all you need to get by your entire life. It’s beautiful just how much they mean to each other, and it made me want, more than ever, to stay by the one I love and care for her the rest of my days.

But it’s not all sappy old couples and weepy moments! This movie is exhilarating. The action abounds after the 30 minute mark. When Carl and his goofy Boy Scout sidekick start exploring the wilderness of South America (with Carl’s floating house in tow!), they run into all kinds of fun and excitement. Talking dogs who hate squirrels (“SQUIRREL!”), rare birds, and mad explorers inhabit the magical Paradise Falls, and there’s enough cool stuff to keep your tot (or tots) occupied through this ecstatic little picture. I recommend seeing it in 3-D. Why? Well, why the hell not!?!? It’s 3-D! Don’t be such a fuddy-duddy that you can’t enjoy the simple pleasure of things popping out at you on the big screen!

The characters have amazing depth, even for a Pixar film. Russell, the Boy Scout, actually comes from a broken home (!!!), and crazier than that, the father isn’t one of those doting, heroic single fathers either! He’s actually kind of aloof!!! It’s something else to witness, and you know you’ve seen something special when you go into a theater and watch ANIMATED characters have more real moments that most live-action family movies ever have. Carl is, of course, the main emotional draw for me. He’s not a grump because he’s an old man. He’s a grump because his wife just died!!! You would be a grump, too! And voiced by professional grump Ed Asner, the drama really comes through when you hear him break down a couple times. It’s quite sad to hear it in his voice. But through it all, he still has some great moments of fun ans good cheer, and I thoroughly enjoyed his transformation throughout the movie from grieving grump to the ol’ softie we all knew Ed Asner would be in real life.

Take your kids to see this one for the 3-D, and take your significant other for the sappy love moments. It’s an expectedly well-animated emotional story, more than I thought a flick about a floating house could be. It has a little something for every one; comedy (the talking dogs, especially the alpha male!), drama (the timeless love of Carl and Ellie), and action (a battle on top of a flying zeppelin). What more do you need out of a family movie? It even doles out a bonus with some of the more serious real-life issues that Russell and Carl face, so what are you waiting for? I give Up 9 SQUIRRELS! out of 10. Check it out!!!

Tomorrow I’m going to be Walking Tall with Joe Don Baker! Wish me luck.

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One response

31 05 2009
Bren

You totally didn’t mention the animated short “Partly Cloudy” that played before the film. It was just as good as the feature! Worth going to see all by itself. Oh, and thanks for the shout-out hon. Love you too…

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