If you want the short review: yes, go see it. It’s not the best Pixar movie, but it’s well-worth the price of admission. There are very poignant moments, imaginative moments, funny moments. It’s entertaining and offers some good things to discuss with the kids after the movie is over.
Here’s the longer review:
We went to see the 3-D version at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood. The El Capitan theater is owned by Disney and is right across the street from Graumann’s Chinese Theater, so we got to visit the handprints and footprints. I was particularly interested in seeing the Harry Potter actors’ prints (they did handprints, footprints and wand prints!).
We saw 101 Dalmatians at the El Capitan back in January 2007 when the movie was refurbished, and we had a great time, so we wanted to make sure to take our daughters there one more time before we leave California at the end of the month.
When you walk in to take your seat, there is organ music playing. Then, before the movie, there is a goofy stage show. So, seeing a movie there is a complete, um, experience.
By the time the movie started, I was exhausted from fighting the crowds and sitting through the stage show and the previews. But the movie was lovely and worth the wait, the high ticket prices and the crazy crowds.
Up is the story of Carl Fredericksen, a crotchety old man whose house is being threatened by the encroaching city. Carl is trying to hang onto his house, which is an anchor to memories of his life with his beloved wife Ellie.
The first 15 minutes or so of the film consists of an elegant recap of Carl’s life from boyhood, when he meets Ellie, all the way through their marriage, life together and Ellie’s death. The vignettes are emotionally wrenching, but visually subtle. My 5 1/2 year old daughters understood that Ellie died, for example, but they did not catch that she was unable to bear children, something that was revealed only by an image of Ellie in a doctor’s office, her head in her hands.
This tableau of images worked well to protect young kids from material that was too emotionally sophisticated. They understood enough of the sad material to make out the plot, I think, but not enough so that they cried as much as I did throughout the film. Which was about 20 times, darn Disney.
The film’s action begins when Carl engineers a way to escape — with his beloved house — from the city that is about to devour the last tether he has to his past life.
You’ve seen the previews and ads, so you are already aware that Carl uses his equipment from his days as a balloon man at the zoo to make the house go up, up and away. Unbeknownst to him, however, is the little boy, Russell, who is an unwitting stowaway on his porch.
The rest of the film consists of the adventures Carl and Russell have as Carl tries to fulfill his promise to Ellie that one day, he will relocate the house to Paradise Falls, a destination Ellie had longed to visit her entire life.
The adventure section of the film was rollicking, funny and imaginative. I loved Kevin the bird and Dug the dog. Some of the plot gets a little unbelievable (like the unlikely ability of an old man to hang on to a hose dangling in the air below a house; or the age difference between Carl and the movie’s villain Charles F. Muntz — Muntz was an adult, maybe in his 30s, when Carl was a child, so seeing them both as similarly-aged old men was confusing; what happened to Russell’s father, and who was his mother?)
The last thing I’ll add is that 3-D is not my favorite way to see a movie. Those glasses gave me a headache, and I just couldn’t get used to them. I took them off, put them on, focused and re-focused my eyes; even when I had a couple of minutes when the effect worked for me, I just couldn’t understand the purpose. The 3-D doesn’t make the visuals more appealing or real for me. I guess I am just not hip enough to appreciate it or something; maybe I don’t play enough video games, but I like a well-done 2-D movie just fine, thank you very much.
All in all, I’m glad we had the opportunity to see Up on the big screen. I’ve thought about the movie a lot in the last few days, something that, for me, means that the movie has some sticking power. The emotions and poignancy of the film still resonate, my girls and I are still talking about how funny Dug the dog was, and my daughter Dinah thinks the head bad dog, Alpha, was handsome.
But that’s another story.