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Movie Review: Up (2009)

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Written by Hombre Divertido

On May 29th, Disney/Pixar released Up and proved once again that they simply cannot make movies that are consistently funny anymore, or even cute. Yes, some will find it tugging at their heartstrings as dreams become fulfilled, but fundamentally the story is too inconsistent to engage an audience that is looking deep.

Up has some wonderful moments but takes far too long to get going, and has too many violent and unnecessary emotionally depressing moments for children. The trailers clearly denote a comedy, and though it has some very funny moments, it tends to indicate there might be something to hide when the funniest moment in the trailer does not actually make it into the movie.

Hide is exactly what Up does. Behind the veil of a summer animated comedy is a story that is more heavyhanded than other Disney/Pixar offerings, but has comedic moments thrown in that are too obvious and appear to simply be an effort to even things out.

Where Up does shine is in the vocal talent. Though Disney/Pixar has suffered in the past from casting name actors in roles rather than lesser known but more experienced voice actors, Ed Asner does an excellent job as Karl Fredrickson, the 78-year-old man who ties thousands of balloons to his house, and floats away to South America in hopes of finding the place he and his wife had always hoped to visit. Jordan Nagai adds consistent comedic delivery as Russell, the stowaway on Karl's trip, as does Bob Peterson as Dug, one of many talking dogs in the film. Christopher Plummer is fine as the antagonist, but the writing lets him down as the character of Charles Muntz has inconsistent motivation.

The story by Bob Peterson, who co-directed with Pete Docter, is all over the map. The premise is just cute enough for the audience to enjoy, but unnecessary factors continue to get thrown in that will leave you scratching your head. The story is also an emotional roller coaster as it starts out cute, and actually gets depressing before the story even…takes off.

Visually the film is also inconsistent. The film looks good in certain scenes, but seems to lack the attention to detail that was appreciated in other Disny/Pixar endeavors such as Cars.

The fact that Peterson wrote, co-directed, and provided vocal talent, may have proved to be too much and negatively impacted the final product.

Recommendation: The adult audience at the 12:01 am showing appeared to enjoy the film, but children may have a completely different reaction.

As the first animated release of the blockbuster season and first Disney/Pixar release since the highly overrated Wall-E, it’s bound to make a mint over opening weekend. The film is something new and shiny to look at but is inconsistent in its energy, and does not capture the consistent humor of previous Disney/Pixar films such as Toy Story I and II. Finding Monsters vs. Aliens still in the theatres will provide more laughs.

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  • Openingsalvo

    I completely disagree. I have just been to see the movie. Up had a classic disney feel to it while still adding laughs that i have come to expect from pixar productions. It does not disillusion the audience. It gives the best and worst of life. My little brother(9) also went to see this movie. I can guarantee you I will be buying this movie the day it comes out.

  • jerseycajun

    “Finding Monsters vs. Aliens still in the theatres will provide more laughs.”

    Impossible. I’ve seen Monsters vs. Aliens and I laughed a grand total of one time. I’ve already had at least 4 times as many laughs from watching the trailers to “Up” alone.

  • D Lynch

    Hombre Divertido has it more that right.
    I am not sure what the other guys saw but I saw “UP” last night and was very disappointed in the story.
    Yes if has some laughs, good action scenes, and some good charters. But the story had an icing of a “depressing mess” story line.
    I love how the story began and fell in love with the two children, watched them fall in love, get married, and then the movie took a nose dive.
    A couple that could not conceive?
    Getting old without fulfilling their dreams?
    Finally the writers decide to KILL ONE OFF, the wife, leaving the husband alone and crushed. Who would decide to give the audience a charter that they love and then kill that charter off?
    Such a “Depressing Mess”.
    For those who would say “Well that’s realty” I would remind them that this is FANISITY! And it’s a Disney movie to boot. Even Bambi treated reality better that this and they caught hell for killing him mother in that movie.
    Killing off the wife charter was bad enough but it became the driving force of the story and thus we (the audience) were reminded of her death throughout the whole show.
    “Up” could have been a great movie but the story was nothing like the previews lead us to believe it was, instead we have a dismal story with a few laughs thrown in to keep the audience from committing suicide. I do feel deceived by what I expected, and after spending nearly $60 for my family to see the film I feel robbed.
    I’ll end by quoting a group of parents as they left the movie (out of earshot of their children).
    “Remember when Disney use to make movies that were fun, uplifting and did not require an explanation about death and depression to our children”

  • typical disney

    where have you seen a mother or woman (not a princess) stay alive in ANY disney movie. Disney isn’t able to get beyond their historic trend. Killing off the wife was status quo for them. And as for the last remark “Remember when Disney use to make movies that were fun, uplifting and did not require an explanation about death and depression to our children” – there are only a small handful that did not need explanations. Point: snow white, bambi, cinderella, beauty & the beast, the lion king, dumbo, pocahantas, hercules, mulan, tarzan….

  • pchild

    I agree, this was not my favorite Pixar film either. But I believe the first 30 minutes of the film is the wrong end to be criticizing. What makes a 72-year-old man a hero? Obviously the usual Disney cues won’t help here. Instead the director lays out nearly a lifetime of back story on the main character in a nearly silent sequence lasting 20 minutes, utilizing a Beethovenian style economy that is the crowning jewel on this film. In no time, a hero is born out of a lifetime of tragic yet real life events. A critique of the film’s laugh-o-meter totally misses the point. If this generation of kids can’t deal with the natural death of an old woman in the same way they are expected to deal with sex and violence in prime time television, then this generation of kids is headed towards a level of spiritual and emotional numbness that scares me.

  • wow…

    I had finally gotten around to watching this film and I must say, it has a terrible over feel to it.

    The fact that they kill off the happiest most outgoing character! The authors give us this bright, happy, outgoing couple who are perfect for each other, and then they destroy them by not being able to have kids, then to top it off, she dies! Ahhhh!!! Terrible!

    Also the whole point of, “he couldn’t have thought of strapping a thousand balloons to his house earlier”? or buying the plane tickets?

    Such sad moments were in this film, for example one memorable scene is where he gets the tickets and he invites her to their hill, and she struggles to get up the hill when usually it’s him struggling to get up the hill…

    Ahhh so terrible
    Still I like the dogs, the kid is very funny as well

  • Abe

    I personally don’t recommend this movie. I am a 30 year old man and I felt sad after the movie. The depressing musik got stuck in my head, and I regret completelly having my 3 year kid seen this deppressing movie. This movie is for adults not children in my point of view.