(grumplet) Up: Up, and Straight Up My… Heart~

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Sorry this has taken so long to make it up here on Grump Factory, but the theater, she is an expensive beast! And between taking summer school on the weekdays (BAH!) and rising ticket prices (it’s $10 here!) the local AMC 30 has a difficult time coaxing me out. Why, it would take a miracle for me to carve out the time it would take on a weekday to get a decent ticket price to go see a movie. Well, a miracle or a Pixar movie.

SO THIS ONE TIME IN WEASEL SCOUT CAMP

Up is the story of Carl Frederickson, a man with a romantic love of adventure. Unfortunately, he also happens to be pretty shy and reserved. We first meet him as a child, staring at a theater screen in wide-eyed adoration as his hero, explorer Charles Muntz, regales the press with tales of his travels, vowing to prove the existence of a fantastical jungle creature that scientists remain skeptical about. After leaving the theater, Carl happens upon a boisterous young girl named Ellie, who also has a Muntz fixation. They become fast friends and (of course) grow up to fall in love and marry. Unfortunately, as with all things, Ellie passes away at an old age, leaving a 78-year-old Carl alone in the home they made together. He now lives a solitary, grumpy existence, scowling at the world outside his porch that has no use or sympathy for a man as old as him. After an altercation with construction workers eager to bulldoze his house, he’s given no choice but to relinquish it and be moved into a retirement home.

But of course he’s not going so easily. Using his expertise as a helium balloon vendor, he ties scores of balloons to his fireplace and, improbably, his house starts floating away! His plan is to settle the house down next to a waterfall in a certain South American jungle, which had been one of Ellie’s lifelong dreams. Unfortunately, it seems Weasel Scout Russell happened to be on his porch at the time, looking to assist the old man to earn his final merit badge. And the unlikely, unwelcome sidekicks keep piling on as Carl fixates on achieving Ellie’s dream at all costs.

Wow, this movie hit me. HARD. I was crying like a baby ten minutes in and the waterworks started back up for a second time later on. There’s something about film and television that deals with aging and death that gets to me. The opening montage of Carl and Ellie growing old together is so poignant without dialogue that it could easily serve as a standalone short, and could be why they saw fit not to produce one to show in front of the feature like past Pixar movies. The bond with the characters in this film are so strong from the outset that I was ABSOLUTELY with them every step of the way on the journey. Every time Carl’s house was put in danger, my hands gripped the arm rests a little tighter, my heart would beat faster and my lower lip quivered. Carl is probably the most human character to star in a Pixar film and I’m not saying that because he’s one of the only humans to star in a Pixar film. (Hi, The Incredibles!) He’s a man that lost the most important person in his life and sees her presence in every inch of the house they lived in together. To Carl, Ellie IS that house, and as long as it holds together, he won’t have actually lost her. The progression from this to the final acceptance that things are just things, no matter how much sentimental value they have, is natural and very moving. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Carl is my FAVORITE Pixar character ever, actually. Ed Asner, who voices Carl, has been playing crotchety old men for the past sixty years, and I’d be hard pressed to find a (non-gargoyle) role he’s done so well in.

And the rest of the cast doesn’t slouch, either. Russell, a fat Asian kid with a strong sense of Weasel Scout duty, is adorable; and also has some depth as we learn about his estranged relationship with his father. Dug, the talking dog, is exactly what a dog would be like if one could talk. He simple-mindedly adores people and has a vehement hatred of squirrels. Maybe it’s just because I’m a dog person, but I loooooove Dug~ <3.  There’s also a whole airship full of talking dogs! EEEEEEEEEEEEE! Whether it’s just my own personal biases or not, I’d say Up easily maintains Pixar’s reputation of having endearing casts of characters.

What didn’t work so well was the 3D employed in select theaters. Maybe it’s just because Coraline spoiled me, but the 3D in this movie just felt lazy. Very seldom did it ever jump out at me, in fact there were several times I forgot I was watching a 3D movie at all. It just strikes me as lazy and an opportunity missed, but it’s a mistake that doesn’t really stem from the core experience of the film, so I can’t hold it against it too badly.

As if it even needed mentioning, this is a fantastic film. Pixar has yet to make a stinker (Cars? What’s that?) and Up continues the tradition of animated excellence that keeps Pixar at the forefront of animation in the Western world. In fact, I’ll be bold enough to say that I think Up is better than WALL-E. I won’t find many people agreeing with me on this. WALL-E has reached such popular and critical acclaim that even appearing to put it down can result in a scarlet letter (G for “grump”). And I’m in no way putting down WALL-E by endorsing Up. Both are fantastic movies. They’re also different movies. WALL-E is a grand, epic, romantic journey that has/had a greater chance of resonating with audiences on a macro level. The animation is showy and amazing. Up is a more intimate tale with a smaller scope that mines deeper, darker emotional material and has considerably more peril for its protagonists than any other Pixar movie I can think of. It’s difficult to be too perturbed when toys, cars, insects, superheroes, fish, rats and robots are put in mortal danger. But Carl is an old man and Russell is an innocent kid. There’s actually blood in this movie. And while it’s not as dazzling visually as WALL-E, it’s the small details such as the weave of fabric visible in Carl’s clothes that let you know that Pixar is the best there is at what they do. Up simply touched my heart deeper than WALL-E, and for that I have to say that I think it’s my personal favorite of everything they’ve done so far. It’ll undoubtedly be lost in the shuffle of more popular, profitable and flashier entries in Pixar’s library, but a part of me thinks that keeping Up as a secret treasure of my heart isn’t such a bad fate at all. {:3

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13 Responses to “(grumplet) Up: Up, and Straight Up My… Heart~”

  1. Marc M Says:

    “…and could be why they saw fit not to produce one to show in front of the feature like past Pixar movies.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partly_Cloudy

    They gypped you out of a short, my friend.

  2. John Mora Says:

    D:<

    PIXARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  3. Sean/Shard Says:

    Given your reaction to Up, Partly Cloudly would have been right up your alley. I agree that Up is endearing and sweet in a non-cloying way. I think it’s one of those films you could come back to ten years from now and it would be just as poignant, maybe more so depending on your experiences in the interim.

  4. Rick Says:

    FFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

    Want to see this movie. Way more than I initially did after this glowing grump.

  5. Rick Says:

    And now I have seen this movie! Maaaaaan, you weren’t kidding about the montage in the beginning. Easily one of the most endearing and heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen in animation, or heck, anything at all, really.

    • John Mora Says:

      AUGH, I KNOW, RIIIIGHT?!

      Anyways, thanks for checking back to let me know what you thought. I just recently rewatched Monsters Inc. and cried like a baby at the end of that, too. Pixar, what the helllllllllllll

      • Rick Says:

        I had trouble even finding the damn grump. Your site’s archives aren’t very well organized or easy to find specific things!

      • John Mora Says:

        I just tried searching under “Pixar” and “animated” and it was like the second result. It’s not my fault the movie has a really unspecific title.

      • Rick Says:

        There’s a search option?

        When I clicked a link that said “animated” I assumed it would list posts from your blog since I clicked it from your blog. But no, it took me to some random search page with not a single Grump Factory blog attached to it. I ended up scrolling through several months of grumps to get to it.

      • John Mora Says:

        There’s a search function on the main page of the blog. Use it~

  6. Rick Says:

    It’s amazing that I never saw that search box before.

    Consider my complaint retracted.

  7. The Princess and the Frog: JAMMIN’ WITH THE BIG BOYS~ « Grump Factory Says:

    […] god that Disney had partnered up with Pixar, eventually buying them up. Pixar honcho John Lasseter was wisely put in charge of Disney’s […]

  8. Toy Story 3: Sobbing Man-Children « Grump Factory Says:

    […] another. The scenes during Toy Story 3‘s climax are as harrowing as anything in WALL-E or Up, easily. One, in particular, is so friggin’ dark I couldn’t believe that a […]

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