Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Up

At nearly 2 years, 4 months, Alex took in his first ever movie theatre experience today. As with Josh's first movie on the big screen (Wall-E when he was 3 and a half), Alex's first film was a Pixar effort. My friend Omar came by to see Rebecca today and tagged along to watch a matinee of Up at the Kingstowne theatre. I was glad that Omar came along as I fully expected to need to take Alex outside the theatre when he started acting up. But much to my delight, he possesses the same "popcorn gene" as his brother. All three of us shared a medium popcorn and it was enough to keep Alex seated and interested through most of the movie. Despite whining that he wanted to watch Wall-E after seeing the Pixar logo at the start of the film, Alex ended up having a good time and laughed during several scenes. Towards the end, once the popcorn ran out he was fidgeting and ended up snugging with me on my lap for the last few scenes. He gave an impromptu "I love you daddy" towards the end which made me smile and Omar laugh.

The movie itself was another solid effort by the best movie studio in Hollywood. Gorgeous visuals and a decent plot line helped offset a few uninteresting characters. The lead in Up is Carl, an octogenarian who recently lost the love of his life and had become increasingly grumpy and lonely in the same house he and his wife played in as kids. He decides to fulfil a dream of his late wife and take a trek to South America. Buoyed by a floating house attached to hundreds of helium balloons, Carl and his sidekick (a young curious boy scout) head to South America and end up on a wild adventure that didn't get showcased much in the trailers for the movie. The supporting cast features a pack of talking dogs, a world class explorer and a weird Jar Jar Binks looking bird. Once again Pixar manages to weave some heart into the film as you really do feel the loss that Carl feels now that he's lost his wife. Josh was able to follow the back story of Carl's wife's death well as he asked me about 15 minutes into the movie, "Dad, where did his wife go?"

Josh and I felt the same way about Up. We both enjoyed it but thought that Wall-E was definitely the better Pixar movie. I'd have to place Up at #6 in the Pixar arsenal behind Wall-E, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Toy Story 2, tied with director Pete Doctor's previous Pixar film (Monsters Inc.).
This movie just seemed to have too much going on once the action shifted to South America. So much of the high flying house scenes were just way too unrealistic (even for a kids movie). What made Wall-E so good is that even though the story was far fetched and set in the future, everything still made sense and seemed plausible. In watching up, you feel like the overall plot was set in stone from the beginning but that some of the intricacies of the story were made up on the fly and cobbled together to form the finished product.

A #6 film in Pixar's world is still worthy of 4 out of 5 JR's. 10 films in, Pixar has yet to produce a dud and I can only expect more of the same excellence when Toy Story 3 drops next Summer. When we left the theatre and I asked Alex how he liked the movie and he said "movie really funny!" So 5 out of 5 AR's for Alex.

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