Saturday, May 30, 2009

Box Office Review - Up

What would we do without Pixar? No other company has been able to churn out such consistently good family entertainment. They never treat their audience as simple, and always make intelligent and though provoking films. Whenever they release a new film the words “best Pixar film yet” are thrown around. Usually I would consider that an overreaction to any film, but over their last three films we have seen true masterpieces. In 2007 we had Ratatouille, a film about a rat working in a restaurant. The idea made it sound unappealing, but the film turned out to be fantastic. In 2008 came Wall-E, a kids film devoid of dialogue for the first twenty minutes. That film looked incredible and had a great eco friendly message. Now in 2009 we have Up. I would say that the story of Up is much simpler than Wall-E, but the issues that are dealt with are more difficult to address. Where Up succeeds is the way that it deals with these topics. The main character is 78 year old Carl Fredricksen (Voiced perfectly by Ed Azner). The beginning of the film we join him as a young quiet boy fascinated with adventurer Charles Muntz. Carl meets his future wife Ellie (who is also fascinated with Charles Muntz) when they are both children and the film then features a montage of their life. Carl is a balloon salesman, and Ellie works at a zoo. The film does not shy away from the sadness that comes from life and even shows how Ellie and Carl are unable to have children. (Spoilers...................................) The film addresses the death of a loved one at the end of the montage and it is hard to not have your 3D glasses fog up at this part. Carl is now a bitter old man unable to overcome his grief after the loss of his wife (Spoilers Over..................). Fredrickson’s house over the span of many decades is now in the middle of a downtown city, and after an unfortunate and realistic incident Fredrickson is forced to move into a nursing home. These opening scenes are the best of the movie. I am not saying that the adventure stuff was not fun, but I could have watched the Fredricksen’s life story for the entire two hours. Their back story is that strong. The rest of the story can be seen in the trailer. Carl ties balloons to his house, Russell the Boy Scout ends up on the porch, they arrive in South America, and end up with problems from a Dr. Moreau type character. The relationship between Carl and Russell is great. Russell is much like Carl as a young child, but it takes a long time for Carl to except him. Over the course of the film while Carl and Russell talk we find out that Russell parents are divorced. The film sensitively looks at how divorce affects children. This would be a heavy issue for any children film, but remember this is Pixar that made this. Of course they do a tremendous job dealing with it. There is so much praise already for this film, and I don’t have much more to add. Pixar rules the animated world, and I am so glad that I they are willing to address such issues as death and divorce in a children’s film. We need more studios willing to make smart and entertaining family movies. I am very happy that I was able to spend time with the character of Carl Fredricksen, one of the greatest animated characters of all time.

A Golden Banana

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