Well, I just got finished watching Disney Pixar’s Up. First and foremost, I would like to say, John Lasseter and crew, you sneaky sons-a-bitches, you did it again. As the menu screen slowly burns into my TV, I sit here wiping my eyes (equally from tears of laughter and from other squishy emotions) and pondering what makes a Pixar film so great. I don’t want to say that their works are formulaic, but they do have a rhythm and rhyme that is distinctly Pixar.
Most are aware that there is no great story without great conflict. Hamlet, The Divine Comedy, Porky’s Two: The Next Day; they all shared this ethos. Pixar has taken spinning tragedy into a wonderful plot to an art form, though. Let’s run down a quick list. Toy Story 1 and 2 (soon to be 3) all dealt with loss of some kind. With Monster’s Inc., it was a loss of home for poor Boo. A Bug’s Life, well, you have me there; maybe going through changes, metamorphosis, and what not. I don’t really remember that one well. Touching, but not to say so tragic that one feels the immediacy of the loss. Childhood playthings, the home and friends you grew up with: these are the things that we look back on with nostalgia and ennui. Moving on.
Finding Nemo. First five minutes of the movie, a barracuda ate his freaking mother! Way to step it up, Pixar! I will always have a fondness and dread of that movie, due partly to the excellent animation, partly to the story and characters, but mostly to the un-named amount of high quality LSD that was put in my mouth as a “welcome home” present many years ago. By the way, and for the record, probably not the best way to work off jet lag. To give you, kind reader, an example of its potency, we laughed, cried, and shook in fear for what we thought was the entire movie. Turns out it was the DVD menu. We watched it for 40 minutes before we realized our folly. Once we hit play, boy, did I think we were in for a treat. Ellen Degeneres’ plucky Dori saying, “I need water, fill my trailer with water,” looped on the menu screen made promises of mirth and merriment. Promises it did not keep. This was the scariest movie I had ever seen. Seriously, if you have a mental death wish, try it for yourself. The only thing getting me through the entire family being wiped out, blood thirsty sharks, and killer jellyfish was Crush. God bless that turtle and his So Cal, laid-back attitude.
The Incredibles was basically McCarthy-era blacklisting and propaganda, Ratatouille was about pestilence, and WALL-E was about killing the environment. I believe Al Gore did an amazing job directing. Cars was just so that Nascar people had a movie to take their kids to.
Which brings us to Up! I’ll be honest; I bought this on a whim. I heard good things, so I decided to drop $20 and see what all the fuss was about. Well! Curtain up! (Spoiler alert!) We start with a lovely opening montage for which Pixar is famous. The animation is crisp and beautiful, and it captures my attention. The bouncy soundtrack takes me to by-gone years of Talkie pictures and when a person called having crabs, “a case of the Jitter Bugs.” Then, I start to feel where this montage is going, and I immediately start to tell myself to man up. But, no. It was comparable to when you have a clogged drain, and you pray that the bowl doesn’t overflow, but you know it’s gonna happen anyway. Not to give it all away, but, basically, they encapsulate the phrase “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” So, I start wailing like a kid with a skinned knee. And, they don’t stop there. No, we get hit with these emotional zingers about every 15 minutes. If you don’t shed a tear or two, congratulations; you have no soul. The Dark Lord (not Voldemort [He dare speak the Dark Lord’s name!]) will be up soon to hand over the keys. That being said, great film, rent it, buy it, whatever. I loved every minute of it and suggest you put the bottle of Jergins down and use those tissues for swabbing tears.
Until next time, like a male cheerleader after one too many wine coolers, I’m out.