As I mentioned yesterday this weekend we took the kids to see the new Pixar film Up. (I could have sworn there was an exclamation mark after the title, Up!) I have stated often that I am a huge fan of Pixar films, but I am a fan of “childrens” films in general. What has always made Pixar films stand out, and in the best traditions of such films as Dumbo and the Jungle Book, is that the film manages to engage and speak to not only the kids but the parents as well. This is more than just the “adult” jokes in Shrek, this is about themes and passages that younger children often won’t notice, at least not on their first watching. My favorite film is The Incredibles which manages to please older fans of Bond and sci-fi movies, tug at the hearts of parents and speak to family dynamics and pubescent change, while engaging the kids of all ages with the action and comedy. Compare that with The Little Mermaid who is a spoiled brat who gets her way in the end, after nearly killing everyone.1
Up lives up to my expectations of a Pixar film. The film is fundamentally about an old man living out a long delayed adventure with a boy as his all too willing sidekick. The movie opens (no real spoiler here) with a 4 minute montage of the life Carl Fredricksen and his childhood sweetheart and wife Ellie, ending with her death on a hospital bed. I think very few adults had a dry eye and we were only a few minutes into the film. The pathos of this loss pervades the film and while our 11.5 year old daughter was in tear at various points our 5 year old son understood that Ellie was gone, but was not overwhelmed with grief (as I was at points).
The film moves up and on as Carl decides to fulfill the one wish that he and Ellis shared from childhood, to travel to Paradise Falls in South America. From that point the action is fast-paced with just the right amount of humor. There is the 8 year old unintentional stowaway Russel, dogs that talk, and a fight featuring a sword and a walker. Good stuff!
Up manages to find that balance between dealing with “adult” issues of how we live our lives (and grieve our losses) and keeping the action and humor coming in large doses. This is (another Pixar) film that will bear watching many times and at many ages.
Wired.com has two excellent articles relating to Up. The first is Top Ten Things Parents Should Know About Pixar’s Up. It is a great list and touches on such important questions as “What’s the best time for a bathroom break” and “Do I need to sit through the credits for some sort of bonus movie at the end.” The second brief article examines whether or not you could actually lift a house with balloons. I sense a MythBusters episode.
Finally, a techinical note. We were able to watch this in 3D. I was quite worried about that. Most 3D efforts I have ever watched have awkward glasses that never work for those of us who wear glasses required for seeing real life. Apparently technology has improved.2 These battery-operated polarized glasses were activated by the movie itself and were transparent, aside from the added weight on my nose. The theatre even included head straps for those in the audience with smaller crania.
Th 3D worked very well in this film since the scenes flying through the cloudes and above the ground were given real depth. Don’t look for lots of objects flying in your face causing you to duck, there are some, but mostly you are simply left in awe at the beautiful images created. It all feels so gorgeous.
Needless to say this movie gets the nod from Targuman. Well worth seeing with the family and it will be on my Christmas list as soon it is out on DVD.