Here’s my frustration with Pixar: they’ve ruined so many movies for me. Not their own movies—other studios’ movies. They keep pumping out one great animated movie after another, so by now I’ve foolishly begun to associated computer animation with high-quality movies. Naturally, then, when I watch a movie like Monsters vs. Aliens, it ends up being pretty disappointing, because there’s no depth or maturity or plot behind the formulaic humor and self-empowerment follow-your-dreams schmaltz.
Not so in Pixar movies. With WALL•E, and now with Up, they’re blazing new trails. In the past, Pixar movies were what you’d describe as kids’ movies that appeal to adults. However, their last two movies (and possibly The Incredibles as well) are instead adults’ movies that appeal to kids. They’re colored with a vivid, joyful melancholy that gives their stories of love, devotion, and sacrifice a sense of realism that very few movies—animated or otherwise—ever achieve. Up is a computer-generated movie about an old man flying to an imaginary land in a totally impractical vessel—a house suspended under thousands of helium-filled balloons. Yet it feels much more real than nearly any adventure movie you’ve ever seen. And the wordless ten-minute montage of Carl Fredricksen’s life at the beginning of the movie is a far more touching, beautiful, and real love story than any romance movie you’ll see this year. All of the characters are real. Carl is not merely a grumpy old geezer but a cynical yet sentimental man driven by love lost. Russell isn’t a heartwarming wonder child with wisdom beyond that of the movie’s adults; he’s just a hapless yet passionate kid. Dug the dog has a collar that lets him talk, and he says exactly what a real dog would say if given the opportunity. (This is why Dug is the funniest character in the movie.) The villain is not a lunatic; it’s easy to understand what drives him. And regarding one of the movie’s many themes, only Pixar is bold enough to suggest that sacrificing your dreams for the sake of love may be more precious than following them.
What all this means is that I am now a slave to Pixar for life. From now on, I will have to go see every movie of theirs in theaters as soon as it is released. I wish that, just once, they would poop out a real stinker so that I could have an excuse to wait until a friend rents it. But noooo, they’ve gotta keep making great movies every time.
So here’s my recommendation for Disney: hand Pixar two bags full of money with dollar signs on the side, and tell them to make whatever movies they want to make. Then sit back and light a couple cigars with hundred-dollar bills, because it is Pixar that’s carrying the torch of the old animated Disney movies that have become a cherished part of our culture.
Oh, and one last thing: even if you, the reader, have the option of watching Up in 3D, it’s really not necessary. This was the third movie I’ve watched in 3D, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the third dimension is always either a) distracting or b) superfluous. Thankfully, Up falls into the second category; you pretty soon forget that you’re watching it in 3D except for the fact that you’ve got a pair of heavy, dorky-looking plastic glasses perched upon your schnoz. So save yourself a couple of bucks and opt for the dimension-challenged version of Up.
Okay, all the blather is over, and it’s time to rate the movie! Here’s the system:
- I would pay money to see it again ($$$$).
- I would see it again if someone gave me a free ticket ($$$).
- I wouldn’t see it again even if someone gave me a free ticket ($$).
- I wouldn’t see it again even if someone paid me to go ($).
And Up gets $$$¢ (three dollars and change). That’s an excellent rating…nearly as good as the rating I gave WALL•E. And once I inevitably buy the movie on DVD and watch it a time or two, I might like it even more.