Monday, June 8, 2009

The Kid In Me

Up is Pixar's best. And that's saying something.

This film tells the extraordinary tale of Carl Frederickson and Russel. Carl ties thousands of balloons together and escapes to Paradise Falls instead of spending the rest of his years in a retirement home. Accidentally joining him is Russel, a Boy Scout trying to get the one badge he doesn't have: Elderly Assistance.

The two of them meet up with Kevin, the large, goofy, loveable bird who is unable to fly and just wants to feed her kids (yes, it's a girl bird named Kevin). They also meet up with Doug, the dog with a talking collar who is supposed to track and capture Kevin but, being the black sheep of the slew of dogs living in the area, decides instead to help his new found owners and friends. The four of them make together create a hilarious team.

The jokes themselves are juvenile and silly, baring no serious thought nor satirical depth, they are perfectly timed slapstick comic relief. This is hard to achieve with animation but is done expertly in this film. That's also the only "kid" part to this "kid" movie.

At the core of this film are issues of love, loss, grief, letting go, and getting by. All of which are dealt with during the first twenty minutes of the film (which could be given it's own Oscar for Best Picture). Carl has to get over the loss of his wife and the "old, simple way". He needs to get over the dreams that he has held onto since he was a small child and move onto things that give him his own meaning. Due to a miscarriage from his wife, who passed before he did, he has had no children and, therefore, is left all alone; causing his late-life crisis. Fortunately, Russel provides the perfect companion. Russel not only needs his Elderly Assistance badge but also a father-figure as he deals with the frighteningly popular issues of today's children: a father who is never there and a step-mom who he doesn't trust enough to call Mom. Thereby giving Carl the chance to get meaning by giving meaning. Doug and Kevin also have their ambitions: Doug, being the only retriever in a group of guard and attack dogs, is goofy and kind. He doesn't fit in with the rest of the litter and knows it. He wants out and finds Carl and Russel. Kevin just wants to live peacefully in Paradise and raise her kids but the group of dogs is trying to hunt Kevin. We quickly grow to love Doug and Kevin and root for them just as much as we root for Carl.

All in all this review can't do justice to Up. The fullness of character as well as the creativity and execution of the story are beyond comparison to any film that came out this year, let alone this summer. Another instant classic from Pixar.

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