A Joyful Experience

...from Hooghly to Hyderabad and beyond.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Up

Last night I watched "Up", Disney-Pixar's latest presentation. I have been hearing about this movie from my friends for the last couple of weeks, and what they said seemed to be a bit odd for a children's animated movie. Two of the ladies said they cried through the movie, and the third didn't cry, but she heard sobs in the theatre. So even before the movie started, I was somewhat apprehensive about it. After watching the movie, my verdict is that this is one animated movie that is different from all others because it is not funny at all.

Now readers may say, "But you wrote the same thing about WALL-E a few weeks ago! You said it is different and scary." I agree. WALL-E is different. WALL-E is scary too, because of the message it carries. But each and every scene of WALL-E is funny in itself - a quality that can be found in any other Disney movie like Aladdin, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life or Jungle Book. All these movies are essentially based in a children's world, with incidents that a child can understand and find humour in. Even WALL-E, with its bleak futuristic setting, uses humour in every scene to be "funny" to children. And this is something which Up isn't. It's just not a funny movie.

True, it does try to be funny in some of the scenes, like when Alpha speaks with a high pitched voice or when Russel climbs over Carl's face (sorry Crys, I used the same examples as you did but then I read your review first, and it's difficult not to internalize!), but the overall situation in the story was so serious at these moments that the humour is completely overshadowed. The first ten minutes of the movie are probably its funniest - the next wordless sequence between Carl and Ellie is probably the saddest and most depressing sequence I have ever seen in a children's movie. Without revealing anything about the storyline, I can only say that whatever happens to Carl starting ten minutes into the movie and almost up to the end would have probably made this movie a tragedy if not for the forced happy ending (which is a must in children's movies). Again, one must understand that the death of Mufasa in The Lion King, or the poisoning of Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were frightening or depressing sequences in themselves, but with respect to the story they were small temporary misfortunes that were only a part of a bigger story of triumph. Here, however, the losses are so permanent and crushing that it keeps lingering at the back of the mind even during the happier moments. Although I did not cry, I do not blame someone who did. Interestingly, an injured man bled in a scene here - I cannot remember any Disney movie scene in the past where blood has been shown so explicitly, but I may be mistaken.


But is the movie good? The story is relatively simple, with fewer incidents happening. The music by Michael Giacchino is hauntingly beautiful. The animation is good, though I felt it is not as good as WALL-E. There are again a few plot holes, but if you can believe the basic premise of a house flying away with helium balloons, you really should not bother about plot holes. Overall, the movie is definitely good and children may even find it funny and cheerful to a certain extent. But if you are an adult and want to watch this movie to spend a couple of hours laughing, stay away. Adults should approach Up with an expectation to see a good serious movie. If that's what you are looking for, you won't be disappointed.

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