So many potential "Up" puns... but I had to pick just one for this entry's title. Such is life.
I finally managed to get out and see Up today, in glorious 2-D! Hey... it was an Imax theater (although not an Imax print), so at least the screen was huge. But we decided as a group that our past experiences with 3-D weren't worth the extra five bucks. Maybe it would have been, since I certainly would have paid more to see Up if I'd had to. (Although after getting lunch first, then tickets and a snack, I was out almost $30 anyway.)
Up raises the bar for animated films, yet again. Pixar shows why they're years ahead of Dreamworks in terms of not only exceptional animation, but compelling storytelling as well. This is really where Up shines.
Without giving too much away, the first part of the film deals very lovingly and honestly with the story behind the main character. It's heartfelt, touching, and also pulls no punches. I don't get teary-eyed at many films, much less animated ones, but I was genuinely moved by these characters. I think the backstory will resonate with a lot of people too, since we've all looked back at some point and wished things had gone differently. But more to the point - these are likable characters, right from the get-go. How many TV series waste countless episodes trying to shape characters into something already as well-defined as these are?
I don't want to give the impression Up is a melancholy film by any means, because while there are some elements of that (which are necessary to establish the main character), Up is so much more. Once the present-day story gets rolling, it's a comedy, a buddy film, an adventure movie, and in the end, a story about second chances. Both in making the most of them when you have them, but also in making your own second chances in the first place.
Up has a lot of great laughs in it (most notably from some of the animals), exceptional visuals, suspense, action, unparalleled animation, and a lot of heart. It's just really solid entertainment, which I think was most evidenced by the fact that we were in a theater full of little kids (don't they have pre-schools around here?), and they were held in absolute rapt attention for the whole film. Even the parts where there was character development going on, I think becuase the characters were so affable, that the kids were really involved with what was happening. Plus, there's enough slapstick humor and action to keep them busy the rest of the time. (Except for a couple of older idiots who couldn't keep their cell phones put away. Sheesh, people! Makes me want to
My one quibble with the film involves a sequence involving airplanes (you'll know it when you see it), which was just too out-of-step with the rest of the film to really work.
It served it's purpose I suppose, but when dogs who had been acting like regular (albeit "talking") dogs for the entire film suddenly start flying around in biplanes... it seemed like I was watching a different film all of the sudden. It humanized them far too much.
The short film that preceded the movie - "Partly Cloudy" - was charming and funny, although I thought it took a few minutes to really get going. Pixar has often used its animated shorts as a testing ground for new technologies, and that was pretty evident here (cloud rendering). Still, despite kind of a weird premise, I enjoyed it a lot. There's some great, funny animation in there. And, as with Up, it has a lot of heart, too.
Up is doing great business at the box office (yes... I should've said it's been "cleaning up", but I'm intentionally trying to avoid "up" puns), and I'm hoping it's a huge success. In part because good films like this really deserve success, which will hopefully breed more good films; and also because we need some of that sweet, sweet Pixar money to trickle down to the college where I work (and where a great many Pixar people - including this film's director - studied animation). I wholeheartedly recommend Up. It's... uplifting.