2009, Movies

Up (2009, Pete Docter, Bob Peterson)

Here am I watching another critically acclaimed kids movie years (a decade and a half!) after it came out.

Up begins with one of the best montages I think I’ve ever seen in a movie, managing to encapsulate two lives seemingly perfectly in a very short period of time. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. And the opening as a whole is about as well done as I could possibly imagine. I think it’s one of the great openings in children’s movie history. It does feel like a lot for children, and I wonder how old a kid needs to be to handle the stuff in the montage as it does feel a little adult.

For me, the rest of the film doesn’t really live up to the opening. The trip to South America feels very easy and then there’s the whole taking dogs thing, which feels like it’s from another film. But whatever, kids like animals. The real issue for me is the villain who is…what? 20-30 years older than Carl? I understand this is not reality – balloon house, talking dogs – but this guy is very clearly younger than Carl physically and that is the kind of thing I just can’t handle. It would be so easy, one would think, to adjust the opening a little bit in order to make the villain more believable. It could be his son. There, I fixed it.

The plot is pretty telegraphed, like it often is in these types of films. The beats are extremely familiar. It’s the balloons that make everything seem fresh. And that’s to the film’s credit but the moment I realized that I had guessed right about what was going on with the villain I rolled my eyes.

The animation is just great. 15 years later the film still looks fantastic and has a very distinct look that I obviously knew about from all the attention this got but it very much feels like its own style, and I think that’s to its credit. There is the odd animated kids film that feels too indistinct in terms of its style.

And I must admit I laughed a few times. There are a few pretty good gags, though I did feel like they were more adult gags (such as the dogs playing poker gag).


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