Sunday, 21 March 2010

Review: Up

Apparently it takes a village to raise a child, which is one way of saying 'don't try to do it alone, idiot'. Grandparents and the older generation at large are a vital part, of course. There's a lot of common ground between the oldies and the little 'uns. Neither has the cares of the ones in the middle - the parents - who have mortgages to feed, jobs to cling on to and bills to worry about.

Not that the older generation are free of all of that, of course, but maybe they are wise enough to want less and worry less. To live for the day, perhaps, as fewer become available. Of course the main difference between the old and the young is that for the old breakfast is every five minutes and Christmas is once a week and for the young there's a whole lifetime between each December 25th.

It's that relationship between old and young which is highlighted in Up. It opens with the life story of Carl, starting with him as little boy with dreams of being an explorer and follows him until he becomes a widowed, cantankerous old ex-balloon seller defending his property from greedy developers. It manages to cover his dreams and those of Ellie, his wife, the pain of childlessness, the annoyance of petty little bills and never having quite enough to make ends meet, to death, grief, a spot of common assault, a court appearance and the threat of eviction.

So much in such a short time. It doesn't sound much like fun either, but it's clever. It draws you in, you become attached to the characters and then it breaks your heart. Not since Simba's father died in 'Lion King' have I wanted to cry so much in a movie. Animation is king of the 'show don't tell' school and pictures paint so much more than mere words.

Carl's life, in his little house surrounded by sky-scrapers, looks bleak indeed, but then he meets eight-year-old Adventure Scout Russell who needs to earn his 'assisting the elderly' badge. He is determined to assist Carl and in doing so win his final badge, graduate to senior scouts and perhaps attract his father's attention. Quite a lot there too - a broken home, new marriage, busy parents with little time for their son. Carl sends him off to find a fictional 'snipe' then unleashes a housefull of balloons and soars up into the sky and away.

Russell accidentally tags along and joins Carl on his quest to fly the house to Paradise Falls in South America.

Surely this is all thoroughly boring for kids? Um, from time to time, perhaps, but just as they start getting fidgety in comes Dug the dog (NOTE: Hilarious link for dog lovers - and Dug lovers!) and Kevin the bird (and mother figure). Dug is very lovably 'dog'. Not since Bolt has there been such a loveable doggie. Poor Dug is quite bullied by the other dogs, but he's loyal and trustworthy even when the others are mean to him. Moralising Pixar-style, but you can't help but love it.

All we need now is a baddie and he turns out to be none other explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), Carl's childhood hero. He's a very good baddie too. Cue a great fight scene with walking sticks, false teeth and bad backs. My kids roared with laughter.

There's much to love about Up. It's basically a lesson in the tenacity of children and the elderly in the face of a world which largely ignores their needs. It focuses on friendship - age difference no barrier - and the fact that not only have the young much to learn from the elderly, but the elderly can learn a lot from the very young too. For once those in the middle - the parents - are disappointing and ignored.

Up is a surprising film and, after the saccharine of The Princess and the Frog, it's a real tonic. It comes with a brilliant new short film 'Dug's Special Mission' which looks at Dug's day before he meets Carl and Russell. It's quite the funniest thing I have watched in ages. In fact I watched it twice on the trot and cried with laughter both times. Brilliant.


  1. I love UP too.

    Pixar are just fantastic, there is no other way to describe them. The themes they tackle are wonderful.

    And I like your header :)

  2. I like pixar so I think we'll give it a try. Will make a change form the incredible which seem to be favourite at the moment.

  3. May make this the Easter family outing, don't suppose the twenty somethings and teen will object

  4. Further to last comment we rented UP this afternoon. I enjoyed it but would say that Dylan at age 5 was touch too young - but then then there's forty something years between us! He liked the dog and the bird best.

  5. Its on my list of films to see, sounds like i had better get the hankies at the ready !


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