I have recently purchased a ‘100 Movies Bucket List’ scratch-off poster, with the intention of finally crossing off all of the classic films I’ve never seen before. However with the current and ongoing COVID lockdowns, now seemed like a perfect time to watch all of the 100 films on this list including those I know and love. These will be watched in no particular order and will be highly dependent on my mood and film availability. First on my list is Up.
Up (2009) is a Disney/Pixar animation that follows widower Carl, as he, his house and intrepid wilderness explorer Russell go on an adventure to Paradise Falls.
Up is definitely “up” there as one of the best ever Disney/Pixar films, if not THE best. It has all of the hallmarks that you’d come to expect from such a film and they are executed to perfection. From the opening sequence, which is by far one of the most heartwarming and heart-wrenching things you will ever watch (and this is coming from a studio that killed Bambi’s mother). If you’re not bawling your eyes out after the first 15 minutes, there is something seriously wrong with you.
Once we’ve recovered from the opening scenes, we’re introduced to Carl the widower (Ed Asher) and he’s still tugging on the old heartstrings as he goes about his life on his own. He’s your typical grouchy old man, in a rather funny and adorable way, and watching his interactions with others is both sad and entertaining to watch. After a rather unfortunate event, Carl takes his house to the skies and it’s here where the film really starts to get going with stowaway Russell, as they arrive in Paradise Falls and encounter mysterious bird of paradise Kevin, Charles Muntz and his dogs.
As soon as Carl sets off on his journey, this becomes a spirited and fun adventure film. There is never a dull moment and is full of wonder, joy and a fair few laughs, as well as a surprising amount of dark tension generated by famous explorer Muntz (Christopher Plummer). For a kids film, Muntz is an unusually threatening figure and the fear of him is only exacerbated by the fact that half of this film is set at a quite a scary height. Even during the fight scene with Carl towards the end of the movie, Muntz is still intimidating despite the very amusing nods to old age that are thrown in.
For me though, the star (and stars) of Up are Dug and Muntz’s pack of dogs. Disney/Pixar have this amazing knack of writing funny sidekick animals, with the majority of laughs coming from simple observations about how these animals behave in real life (something The Secret Life of Pets should have taken more notice of). Up so easily works dogs being dogs into the narrative of this story with ease, and talking dogs are just so funny. From the cone of shame to their attitude towards squirrels and tennis balls, and the fact that they refer to Russell as “the small mailman” – this is pure genius and makes me laugh no matter how many times I see it.
Disney/Pixar films fall into two categories: Very Good and Brilliant. Up has what all Disney/Pixar films have – a wonderfully balanced story full of adult and child-appropriate laughs and heartwarming emotional ‘feels’, and some top-notch animation. But what brings Up into the “Brilliant” category is it is a beautiful tale of love and friendship, with a touching and rather moving message about life. This is a classic tale that is done flawlessly in a way that only Disney/Pixar can.
Note: whilst I love the film, I’m so far not impressed with my poster itself. Scratched it as you would a scratch card and part of the picture has come off… best be more careful next time.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!