Pixar have a habit of creating stories and worlds that transcend the age gap. Despite the fact they are animations the stories tap into your emotions, and in many ways are more real than anything filmed with live actors.
Being digitally animated means that you can ignore who the (voice) actors in Pixars films are, and concentrate on the performance and story. It is often easier to project your emotions on to something that isn’t real – your own imagination filling in the gaps – than it is to accept someone elses portrayal of the subject, so creating stylised characters gives you more of a canvas on which to paint your own impressions and feelings.
Up is a fantastic example of this type of story telling. Even though the visual designs of the characters are exaggerated they come across as human – and some of the earlier parts of the film are genuinely touching.
The caricatures also do nothing to stop Up from being a breathtakingly beautiful film, with some of Pixars finest artwork, animation, and lighting to date. I could look at this sort of artwork for hours, and would love to get some massive prints to put on my wall.
The story is one of promises, and doing the right thing. It revolves around a grumpy old man called Carl, who is stubborn and set in his ways. He refuses to leave his family home – despite incredible offers from the construction firm who want him out. Instead he does the only thing he can think of. He goes Up, and embarks on an amazing, unexpected, adventure!
Russel is a Wilderness Explorer who stows away on Carl’s house. He’s trying to get his “assisting the elderly” badge so goes out of his way to help Carl, often getting in the way in the process. He is also the one who befriends Dug, and Kevin – 2 of the more unusual members of the cast (a talking dog and a female bird).
Carl, Russel, and Dug are all flawed people, they have issues, and you feel for them. Some people may even shed a tear during the more moving parts. Carls background story is particularly well done, it whizzes by yet gives you enough background for you to understand why he’s as grumpy as he is and it gives you a sense of what motivates him towards his apparently pointless goal.
The story is one of Pixars most original. Over the years their pictures have always been new but, in some areas at least, have become a little formulaic. Up, and Wall-E, are a wonderful attempt to break free from the formula and I really hope they continue down this route as, along with The Incredibles, I think their recent output is the best so far. It will be interesting to see how Toy Story 3 turns out next year.
Up is hugely entertaining. Check it out.