Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Pixar's Up


I saw Up yesterday, and, of course, loved it, as I knew I would. Everything about it--the fantastic premise of a man tying balloons to his house to travel to South America; the sense of adventure; the cute little chubby kid; the goofy dog who becomes pack-leader--EVERYTHING.

I felt the story of Carl, especially, was wonderfully portrayed. There are happy times with him and his wife Ellie, but there is the usual life's disappointments, such as having to put off a long-awaited trip to pay bills. And then there is the sad scene where they find out they're unable to have children. I was choking up when Carl bought the tickets to South America, but then Ellie dies before they can go on their trip. I found it quite touching that Carl was so devoted to her that he fulfills his promise no matter what. Carl's character is wonderfully portrayed, and we sympathize with him as he tries to maintain hold over his house and self--even as there is pressure to enter an old folks' home.

And then you have Russell, the adorable scout (I believe he's Asian--though thankfully not stereotypically Asian--yay!) who is driven to "assist" Carl to earn his final badge. He's also loving, determined to save Kevin, the bird, so she (yes, she) can get back to her babies (on a side note, I'm actually glad that when they realized that Kevin is in fact a "she" they didn't do that thing where they give her a feminine version of her name, or even change it to a "girl's" name). We also learn that Russell does not see his dad very often--getting the sense that he's one of those dad's that isn't very involved, and we see that Russell is dealing with his constant disappointment of his father, and missing even the simple things.

At the end of the movie, Carl and Russell both get what they've been missing in life, and they find it in each other.

Also, it was sweet when Carl realizes that Ellie's Adventure Book isn't blank in the section "Stuff I'm Going to Do," but is instead filled with pictures of her life with Carl.

I would like to point out that while I still love Pixar movies, I still wish we could have girls as main characters once in a while. I, as a girl, am able to relate to the males as they go on their adventures. I did not watch Finding Nemo or Up or Ratatouille in distraction because I was forced to relate to a male character, and so it is not a stretch of the mind AT ALL for boys and men to relate to girl characters. The story is not affected, but it at least gives us variety and equality in films, as well as illustrating that boys are not the only ones that can have adventures (that being said, I loved that Ellie was the more outspoken and adventurous person in Up; I only wish that she could have been there in more than just spirit, and while I don't think I would change anything in the movie, I would request that for future movies we don't use the death of the woman to uplift the male character (think of Up and Nemo).

While the scouts' ceremony is a touching scene that further illustrates the bond between Russell and Carl, I found it sort of odd that while Russell's mother is present, she was not standing up on stage with her son--she was in the audience. Just because all the kids are up there with dads is no reason to let your kid stand up there alone--he's not alone. Though I get that Russell has an absent father, they could have emphasized the relationship with the mother. Yeah, there's something missing, but he's not alone. I don't get along with my father and I don't talk to him much, but I wouldn't give up my relationship with my mother for anything.

Oh, and I have one more issue: all the dog characters that Muntz commanded were all male. They couldn't have made one female??? How hard would that have been? Just have a female voice for any one of the dogs--you don't even have to change the appearance of the dogs (since they're androgynous anyway).

I can't wait until this movie comes out on dvd. As with all other Pixar movies, I have to own it (well, except Cars, but I've got the others).


Unknown said...

I'm seeing it tomorrow, huzzah! Have you read the review for it in New York magazine? They mentioned that their one complaint of the film was the lack of significant female characters, bemoaning Pixar's "Boy's Club" status, and citing Coraline as an example of how great imaginative stories with female characters can be.
Just hope other reviewers take note, then maybe Pixar will take note.

Anonymous said...

I got the impression from the movie that the woman at Russel's scout ceremony wasn't his mother at all, but maybe a foster parent or social worker. I know there is a point at which Russel talks to Carl about a woman acting as a parent to him, but uses her first name and states that she is not his mother.

Otherwise I totally agree with your review - what a great movie!

FilthyGrandeur said... might be right Anonymous. i remember him saying that part, but i assumed he was referring to his father's new wife? but...who knows.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! I came looking for images for MY review of UP and found this post, and it's like we wrote almost the same review! And you read Feministe and Shakesville - I like your style, lady.