Saturday, January 22, 2011

Movie Review - Up

by Alex Popp

Carl Fredrickson has dreamed of adventure throughout his life and now his adventure is finally taking off in Disney/Pixar's "Up," directed by Pete Doctor, who previously directed the insanely clever "Monsters, Inc."

Tying thousands of balloons to his house, Carl sets out into the air, on his way to an unknown land in South America. But Russel, the 8-year-old wilderness explorer is in the wrong place at the wrong time--- he's on Carl's front porch.

There seems to be a number of people that disagree with me on this one, probably just because it's a Pixar movie and they have better stuff. We have seen this especially in "Toy Story 2," "Monsters, Inc,," "Finding Nemo," "Cars," and "Wall-E." But quite frankly, this was Pixar's worst. The screenplay is so lousily written. Through nearly the entire movie, they just try too hard to be funny, although, like most Pixar movies, there are parts that are improbable not to laugh at. But even the animation looked slightly cheap, which is surprising considering how the animation in the "Toy Story" series improved in "Toy Story 3."

The first ten minutes of the movie is Carl in his younger years when he meets his future wife, and they plan their juvenile adventure to this South American land. Later, they get married and we see their fifty-something years as husband and wife until the girl dies. Then it gets back to the main part of the story and we find that Carl is still intending to fulfill those plans.

Overall, I don't think Pixar was even trying with this one.

Rated PG for some scenes of violence.

Two stars (out of four) for "Up," which also, by the way, has one of the most ridiculous titles of all (though it doesn't beat "The Neverending Story II").

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

I guess I'm one of those people who disagrees. They definitely made some of the animation a little more stylized, especially on Carl (so they intended the look that feels a little cheap). And yes, I agree that I would have preferred the greater detail of humans found in Incredibles (still a little stylized) and Toy Story 2.

And the beginning 10-minute sequence was ingenious. Most people don't know that the #1 audience you should go for in these movies is the mother (and second is the daughter). If you can win the mom, then she's far more likely to take the family. And I don't think I saw a mom with a dry eye in the theater during the climax of that 10-minute sequence at the beginning. Then they spend the rest of the film coming full circle back to the original source of the emotion. It was impressive and one of the most emotional Pixar movies yet (with the other being Finding Nemo, another road film).

So, yes, the plot was very straight-forward, and the characters were tossed together as they ran into each other (without any real connection), but they fed off of all that emotionally, and it worked, making Up the #2 most successful Pixar movie, behind Finding Nemo (at the time; now Up is #3 and Toy Story 3 is #1). (In contrast, The Princess and the Frog also featured a lot of great characters who randomly ran into each other, but it didn't work because they were never connected emotionally like the characters in Up were.) Plus Up won the Academy Award for best animated film of the year, which was also because of the emotional power in the film.

So while I started out as huge critic of Up (I really don't like road-trip films where characters are tossed together), I quickly became a huge fan of the humor, excitement, joy, and emotion found in Up.

Four out of four stars from me (obviously). Highly recommended. I took my four-year old daughter, and she was scared of the dogs a little, but other than that it's great for little ones.

- The Emperor


  1. Interesting review. Who wrote the second half of it?

  2. Brilliant movie for everyone. If you don't like it your a grumpy old fool. Perfect family film that should please all ages. Great story which has it's humor along with an emotional factor. In my opinion this surpasses Toy Story 3.


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