Friday, July 31, 2009

Up

CAUTION: HERE BE SPOILERS!

I am a huge fan of Pixar and have seen most of their movies multiple times. However, nothing they've done before prepared me for Up. I'm of an age now to truly appreciate what this movie has to say about loss and promises, but I'm not so old that I have forgotten what it has to say about both the yearning for and the sustaining power of a dream.

I never cry over movies, but I almost did during the silent montage that covered Carl and Ellie's life together, when we learned that there would be no babies for them.

I felt like I was living the daily grind with them of slowly building savings for a dream -- going to Paradise Falls in South America for Carl and Ellie, getting a house for Lisa and I -- and suffering through the setbacks the daily grind throws at you, the ones that eat away the savings and postpone the dreams.

I admired Carl every time he crossed his heart to emphasize a promise.

I was delighted at the whimsy of attaching thousands of helium balloons to a house, to fly away in it.

I was astonished at Carl's ingenious mechanism for steering his flying house.

I appreciated his curmudgeonly aggravation with those who simply wouldn't leave him alone with his memories of the dream he and his Ellie shared.

I felt his fear at the thunderstorm (David leaned over and whispered what I was thinking: "The Wizard of Oz"), his impatience with Russell the Wilderness Explorer, his satisfaction at making it to Paradise Falls, his determination to pull his floating house the last few miles to land it right next to the falls, his thrill at meeting his childhood idol Charles Muntz ("Adventure is out there!"), his righteous satisfaction at putting the house within inches of where he intended it would be, his indignation at the betrayal by Muntz, and the incredible shifting of his mental landscape as new dreams came to life.

In the hands of a lesser outfit, these elements of the characters and the story would have, at best, felt both derivative and manipulative. In the hands of Pixar, they meshed into Art, a melding of High Tragedy and Low Comedy and Old Fashioned Adventure Movie.

And I haven't even mentioned the literal aerial dog fight!

No matter the outcome of the Oscars next spring, this is hands down the best movie of the year.

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