Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Up: Review of a short film

There have been lots of live-action shorts made into real films. The most recent example I can think of is Frozen River which premiered as a short film at Sundance and was made into a longer film after that. It feels like the new Pixar movie Up was a 15 minute short film that they decided to make into a feature-length film. I say this because the best part of the movie was the first 15-20 minutes, essentially before the thunderstorm. The little boy explorer meets a kindred spirit in Ellie at their clubhouse. Then occurs one of the most movie montages in movie making (particularly animated) as we see them fall in love and age and finally our hero, Carl (terrific Ed Asner), old and alone in his house as the neighborhood is turned into a skyscraper. Carl overcomes being thrown out of his house by taking it away (his career had been a balloon seller at the zoo) with a huge set of balloons. On his floating front porch he finds he's accidentally taken with him a young explorer named Russell. This is where the movie pretty much loses its amazing magic - the kind that lifts you above the ruin that is Wall*E's world or makes you want Toys to triumph. Up becomes just a really good kids movie after the thunderstorm whisks our heroes away to South America. Good triumphs over bad, and the talking dogs are fun seems to be all you need for the rest of the film. If you have kids, take them. 3.5 of 5 Lambs/Stars


Nick said...

I disagree. While the beginning up through the montage was beautiful and moving, I didn't feel the movie really found its heart until after the thunderstorm. Then you see Carl's passion and struggle to keep a promise to his dead wife while forming a bond with a boy, like the child he could never have (as shown through the montage). And the boy, too... needing a father as his own has all but abandoned him.

Not to mention the balloons are a great metaphor for losing and gaining hope (the more things that get in their way, the lower the house sinks... but when Carl finally realizes what truly matters and gets back his motivation, the house rises once again).

Jess said...

Excellent comments Nick, and I agree with most of what you say. I guess I just really didn't like the extra stuff with the bird and the villian trying to be evil. Everything between Carl and Russel was good and the one dog Doug was interesting. I just think the conflict didn't quite work.

Fletch said...

I can see what you mean, Jess. For me, the first and third acts were best - I didn't care too much for the eeeevil child hero - the threat of Plummer's character killing them due to his insanity was just a bit loopy for me, but I appreciate the humor that the dogs brought. Basically, my least favorite parts were the "kiddiest" parts, but what should I expect from a kids movie?

That said, I'm probably in between the two of you at 4 stars or so. Really good, but not quite on the Wall*E level for me.