Monday, July 13, 2009

Up!

For the second year in a row, the best major film of the year may yet again have been made by Pixar. My wife and I saw Up this weekend and just like Wall-E last year, were amazed by Pixar's ability to bring truly engaging visual storytelling to the big screen. Up is probably not quite as good as Wall-E but it comes close, utilizing a clever kid's tale to delve into some very adult themes. And talk about bold, an animated film, supposedly for kids, showcases an elderly main character who's just lost his wife. The first fifteen or so minutes of the film are actually the story of the man's (Carl Frederickson) and his wife's (Ellie) meeting as children and a rather poignant montage of their ensuing decades together.

It's an adventure story, replete with talking dogs, flying houses, and unusual birds named Kevin, enjoyable for kids and adults of all ages, but like much of what Pixar does, there are deeper themes at work below the surface. There are unfulfilled dreams, promises made to dead loved ones, and unhealthy obsessions contrasting a quiet, yet fulfilling life. But most amazing to me is just how superior this film was when compared with everything else that comes out of Hollywood. The story was compelling and not completely predictable, the characters were intriguing, and the visuals made it difficult to avert your eyes. For whatever reason, it's as if the animated film makers are simply more interested than the rest of those clowns in actually making a good movie.

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