Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Movie Review: Up

Geez, why do we even review these Pixar films anymore? There's really nothing more to say other than "Pixar's awesome". But I'll do my best. Up tells the story of Carl Fredricksen (Edward Asner), a recently widowed senior citizen who's being forced into retirement so his house can be torn down to make way for new construction. Throughout their lives, Carl and his wife Ellie (Elie Docter) had dreamed of adventure hoping to someday make their home at Paradise Falls, a famous landmark in South America that was explored by their childhood hero, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer). Determined to fulfill his late wife's dream before he dies, Carl, in an act of desperation, turns his house into a ramshackle airship using thousands of balloons, in order to fly to South America and land his house on Paradise Falls. He is joined on his quest by a stowaway boy scout named Russell (Jordan Nagai), a strange tropical bird dubbed Kevin, and a dog named Doug (Bob Peterson) who talks using a hi-tech collar.

The Pros: When Pixar first appeared in 1995 with its hit film Toy Story, I honestly didn't think that much of them. Sure, I was six, but still. Even today, I'm not as impressed as most by their earlier films. Sure they were all good, and just having a studio that makes consistently good films without fail is an accomplishment, but I just thought they were a bit overrated. Don't get me wrong, I love Toy Story, but 100% on Rotten Tomatoes? Seriously? A Bug's Life was good, but was still a step down after Toy Story, and Monsters Inc. didn't pick up the slack. I simply don't believe that being to first to showcase some new technology or special effect, or starting some new trend necessarily makes a movie great. It just means they were the first to do something, nothing more.

Then they released Finding Nemo, and it was all uphill from there. With the minor exception of Cars, Pixar films have been getting constantly better and better, to the point that we've all but forgotten animated children's classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Beauty and the Beast. In fact, the only animated feature film Pixar has yet to match, in my opinion, is Fantasia, which will forever hold the crown for best work of animation in my mind. The Incredibles remains my personal favorite of their movies, but Pixar's absolute best film is unquestionably WALL-E. And Up has not dethroned it. But it comes daaaaaammmmmn close.

Up's greatest appeal, to me at least, is the nostalgia factor. Just as WALL-E payed homage to and captured the feel of the very best 70s & 80s science fiction films, Up does the same for the classic Hollywood adventure films, such as The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Dr. Doolittle, Around the World in 80 Days, The Time Machine, and just about any "Lost World" adventure film you can think of. The fact that they cast Christopher Plummer in the film and modeled Carl Fredricksen's appearance on Spencer Tracy in his later years only adds to the old Hollywood feel. (Pointless Trivia: The villain was actually based on Charles Mintz, a cartoon producer who stole the idea for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from Walt Disney, forcing him to create Mickey Mouse as a replacement. Walt has his vengeance from the grave!!)

Aside from this, Pixar continues to deliver heartfelt entertainment and adventure of the highest caliber. The story, the characters, the humor, the uncontrived action, emotions, and adventure, are all near-perfect.

The Cons: I do not believe there is such a thing as a perfect film. We as human beings are far from perfect, and thus are incapable of producing anything perfect. However, you know a film is great when, whatever its flaw may be, you cannot find it. I honestly cannot think of a single thing that bothered me about this film. It is a near-flawless work of art.

The End: When I was a kid, my favorite classic children's film was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (damn you Tim Burton for bastardizing it, by the way). Up has absolutely everything that made me fall in love with that film and more: genuine emotions, memorable characters, visual creativity, and never, ever a dull moment.

Overall, I give Up a Gold Anarchy Coin.

Click here to visit the official website for Up.


Dragonslayer said...

I absolutely agree with you. One of the best movies in a long time.

Jewel said...

One of my favorite movies of all time, and I honestly don't know why. This movie just was so amazing, it's too awesome for words!