January 11, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Up

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Up

Today's movie: Up, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because it's the latest instant classic by the newly Disneyfied Pixar Studios, a production company known for creating kiddie films designed specifically to appeal to adults as well, which is why their movies are a part of the few children's projects I ever review here at CCLaP. And like the rest of the planet, I'm a sucker for Pixar films, so of course I'm going to end up seeing this newest one as well.

The reality: Easily the most emotionally satisfying film in the history of Pixar, which is saying quite a bit; but Cheese And Rice, when did children's movies get so godd-mn depressing? Because for those who still don't know, Up begins with one of the most wrist-slashingly sad Act Ones in the history of animated films, first setting up the story of a curmudgeonly armchair adventurer whose spunky wife is the only thing keeping him sane, then killing her off in the first ten minutes, creating the cranky, muttering, child-hating monster whose fate we follow throughout the rest of the movie. But that said, it's also true that after getting past the movie's well-known premise (namely, facing a foreclosure on his beloved Victorian home, the cranky old man decides to honor a long-held promise to his dead wife, and literally floats the house down to South America using thousands of helium balloons), writer/directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson (both Pixar veterans) quickly veer away into highly original, surprise-filled territory, including what might just be the most brilliant treatment of talking dogs in the history of movies featuring talking dogs. ("I do want the ball! I want it ever so very much! I love you! I have just met you and I love you!") Definitely on the wittier yet more somber end of the Pixar scale, this is a perfect title for older kids and their jaded parents, including as always a surprisingly subversive underlying message ("Big accomplishments are worthless if you betray your ethics along the way"), yet codified enough so that the clueless teabagger mouth-breathers of the world don't catch on.

Strangest piece of trivia: This was the first animated movie to ever open the Cannes Film Festival.

Worth your time? Oh, ever so very much!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 3:06 PM, January 11, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |