Monday, June 01, 2009

Up Discussion (Spoilers)

The movie so far has done better than Cars, Ratatouille, and Wall-E did at this point.

It seems odd. It seems like the story was stitched together: “Let’s have an old man who flies his house away. How did he get to want to do that all of a sudden? We’ll give him a rich history and the current motivation that he’s about to lose his house and that the house is his whole life. Good. Now, who are his partners on this road trip? It would be a good contrast to get a kid in there. How do we get the kid in there? Let’s have a boy scout kid who’s trying to help him cross the street, so to speak. The kid’s trying to earn a badge. Now let’s get some weird partners in there. The back story now is that the old man and his late wife wanted to chase after an adventurer. So what are some weird characters the adventurer could have? Well, the adventurer could be chasing a giant monster, no a bird monster! That will be one of the friends. Then let’s also have a dog. The old man needs a dog. It would be funny if the dog could talk. How do we get a talking dog in there? What if the adventurer had an army of dogs, invented dog collars that could make them talk, and one of the members of the army becomes a friend and partner along the quest? That’s it! We’ve got a movie!”

Why is the adventurer an inventor of dog speech technology? Why is the adventurer (Charles Muntz) in such good health (if Carl is supposed to be 78, that would put the adventurer at about 103).

It’s actually slightly realistic because of that stitched-together quality; life never makes a ton of sense, and it kind of gets hashed together as you go. For example, your best friend might be someone you accidentally bumped into at a grocery store (true story that I know of). So in that way, it is more interesting that you’re left with this hodge podge of characters that are all slightly related but not completely. For example, the old man Carl, is an old fan of the adventurer, who is after the bird and employs the dog, and a boy scout is along for the ride. Not too random, but still pretty darn random.

Now contrast that with the more “normal” story. I don’t know what they’d do with the old man, but if you were to flip it and try to think of the proper nemesis to the old adventurer, you wouldn’t think up some old man who used to be a fan, grew up wanting to pursue it, had his wife die, and then escaped in his house only to stumble upon the adventurer. That’s not a compelling nemesis. I’d expect some other counter adventurer who sets out to set the other one (Muntz) right. Sort of a battle between legendary adventurers. You could do a lot more with that, and you wouldn’t feel like your character is always a victim of circumstance, being forced to act upon the randomness that life threw at him.

What do you think? Disagree?

In other words, this is an interesting story and a shoe-in for the Oscar for Animated Film (Pete Doctor lost his last opportunity when Shrek beat out Monster’s Inc.) because the story is off-beat and the emotions are well-crafted, but I think it could have garnered twice the sales if it “sold out” a bit more like Finding Nemo and Incredibles did. Those films matched the story to the environment instead of stitching together a road trip with random characters and odd quests.

But to counter that thought, Up is on its way to becoming Pixar’s #3 animated film (behind Finding Nemo and Incredibles) or #5 if you consider inflation (also behind Toy Story 2 and Monster’s Inc.). So either people like it or they were desperate for a Pixar movie that wasn’t about a car, rat, or robot. One of those. =^)

Still though, I think it would have been more entertaining to me and would have done better if they concentrated on the adventurer story instead of the random circumstances of the old man.


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