Tuesday, June 02, 2009

head's up

i love pixar films. i have since toy story first arrived. and every film they have produced, except for cars, i have absolutely loved and could easily watch over and over again. yes, i'm also 5 years old.

matt & i went and saw wall-e on opening weekend last year, and it was the first pixar movie that not only made me cry but made me feel so much artistic joy. pixar had finally made an animated film into a work of art as opposed to an ADD-inspired, cliche-filled movie meant to entertain small children for 90 minutes. i found it remarkable and inspiring. and i still feel a fabulous sense of joy whenever i watch wall-e.

so, needless to say, i was quite excited about pixar's new film up. i loved how odd and ridiculous the teaser trailer was, something that only pixar does well. it's full of intrigue, and you can't help but want to know and see more. pixar then delivers and does not disappoint. i was a bit worried, however, when i started seeing the trailers. it seemed to be of the ADD stream of animated films that don't actually have any substance and, on the whole, aren't that funny. so, matt & i hesitantly waited until last friday when reviews started popping up. EVERYONE loved it. i didn't see a bad review in site. 4 stars here, 2 thumbs up there. any fears i had of pixar not delivering a wonderful and artful film to me died, and we immediately decided to see it opening weekend.

first, let me say that i did, indeed, love this film. the first 15 minutes of the film were emotionally breathtaking. i cried. like a baby. i absolutely loved the 5 minute montage of carl & ellie's life, with it's ups and downs, and ending almost tragically, and yet naturally. the final image of carl standing by ellie's casket holding a balloon was both remarkably powerful and incredibly heartbreaking. i think this was, by far, the most poignant and emotional scene that has ever made its way out of pixar's studio.

now, for the rest of the movie, i generally liked it, but had to take issue with a few decisions pixar made. namely, the talking dogs. maybe i'm too much of a humor snob, or maybe i just don't get it...but talking dogs just flat out aren't funny to me. it's a joke that can be funny, and actually was a few times (dug, i think, was the only talking dog that actually was (a) genuinely funny, and that (b) worked for me...["it's funny because the squirrel gets dead."]) but on the whole, it's a gag that gets really old really fast. and by the time the talking dogs are flying fighter jets, this element in the film had really lost me, and i couldn't help but feel like i was watching a dreamworks film instead of my beloved pixar.

i wouldn't go as far as to say that this ruined the film for me. the beginning and overall story is too compelling for much of anything to ruin it, but it did make me feel disappointed and let down by a film that started out so well and had the potential to slap me in the face with its artistic merit. instead, i was making funny faces and looking around in confusion while everyone else was laughing at the stupid gag of the alpha male having a high pitched, yzma-kitty-like evil voice. not funny.

like i said, i did love this film. i think you should see it. overall, i do think it works, but the dreamworksian gags do cause quite the disruption, and along with a few other elements in the film, they make the up feel disjointed. i left feeling a bit let down, but on the whole, i couldn't help but fall in love with pixar's new creation.

and on a side note, the sequence of carl & ellie's life together at the beginning reminded both matt & i of "le maison en petitis cubes", the oscar-winning animated short from this past year. we saw it, along with all of the other nominated shorts, in march, and this one in particular was incredibly poignant and heartbreaking. and yes, it made me cry. also the rembrandt-inspired animation is absolutely breathtaking. please take 12 minutes to watch this wonderful short film.


  1. I think you have to be a dog person to like the talking dog part - I loved Doug (remided me of one of my own dogs). And, remember, it's a kids movie. I watched Hotel for Dogs with my niece recenty and she kept asking me why the dogs weren't talking - talking dogs are funny to kids.
    But, I did think the dogs flying planes was a bit disjointed. Overall I liked it, but thought it was a bit of a sad movie.

    Hope you are doing well - it sounds like it :)

  2. I LOVED it. Really really a lot. I wasn't bothered by the talking dogs, I found them delightful. My boyfriend thought they were a little much though. Hee hee, I said boyfriend.

  3. I heart Up! I especially liked the cartoon before Up! I loved the dogs and how they talked, but it did make it somewhat harder to suspend disbelief.

  4. You bring up a good point, Karen. But, I guess what part of my point was, which I don't think I spelled out very well, is that Pixar has started transcending the idea of a kids movie just being for kids. Especially with Wall-E, their movies are becoming more, I think, for adults rather than for kids. So, I guess my expectations were set high and not expecting elements in the movie that were purely for kids. But yes, I do agree with you about Dug. I loved him, and I think they did a very good job of making that character work. I think, on the whole, it was the evil talking dogs that bugged me so much.

    And Leah, you best be calling me soon. :)