Saturday, September 5, 2009

Loving It UP!

UP in the Ratings and in my Top Film Faves
Directed by: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson

Article By Maria Alina Co

I’m not much a fan of animations, never have been. I’m the type who goes for drama, suspense, horror, or light-hearted comedies or romances, shot in live action. But once in a while, when I catch an animation movie trailer with a promising storyline, I make it a point to watch it in the big screen, all the more to appreciate the colors and the 3D motion graphics.

Shrek II’s ironic parallelism between the medieval age and contemporary culture made it a cinematic gem. Coraline, a story about a girl who finds an eerily familiar world through a small door, is on my list simply because I love Neil Gaiman’s dark children’s story novel. I laud Wall-E’s director and producers for coming up with a futuristic story for the first time.

But after watching Walt Disney and Pixar’s latest feature film, for me, I would have to say UP takes home the grand prize. Hands down to the filmmakers of UP!

Like most commercial animation films, UP follows the formula—protagonist is a loser who suffer from a loss, despair or insecurity, but after protagonist meets one friend after another, most of the time reluctant of the friendship at first but eventually gains or earns the friend’s confidence, protagonist realizes his/her wrongdoings and overcomes his/her obstacles. In the end, together they fight the forces of evil and get his/her happy ending.

We all love losers, yes? For why would you root for someone who appears to be content and flawless? That would be a boring film, right?

In UP, Carl is a grumpy 78-year old widower, living in a conservative house in the middle of a commercially developing, bustling street. Lonely for the company of his love, his late wife Ellie, Carl stubbornly refuses to sell his property to the real estate giants and surrender to living in a retirement home. Instead, Carl chooses to fulfill his and Ellie’s lifelong dream—to live in a lost land called Paradise Falls.

Reminiscent of the cartoon TV series Flying House, without the time-warping effect and minus the gospel stories, Carl ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies up up and away to have the greatest adventure of his life. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare accidentally hitches a ride— the chubby Wilderness Explorer boy named Russell. Together, the most unlikely pair embarks on a journey to South America, where they find truth and discover friendship in a lost world.

Like any animation film, humor plays a significant part in its success and you’d find UP not lacking in comic antics and banters. Russell’s innocent and bubbly ways would win any kid or adult’s heart. He is clumsy, awkward, but ultimately as loveable and honest as any kid we know. On the other hand, Carl is just like our wrinkled and grouchy grandpas, irritable to kids’ restless ways and yet ironically funny.

But take away all the comic banters, talking dogs, even the colorful animation fest, we are left with a simple story about an old man who takes a second wind at life. I applaud the makers of UP who, their general audience being kids, dare to tackle the aged life. Kids and young adults can certainly learn lessons from our old folks.

When he and Ellie were younger, they dreamed of being wilderness explorers, living great adventures. But as reality’s daily grind sunk in, they lost hold of that dream, like a hand letting go of a balloon, floating away, disappearing behind the mist of clouds. How many of us adults have let our dreams go? Never mind if it was intentional, or perhaps, just for the moment, keeping them like pressed flowers on scrapbooks and diaries, hiding them in dusty shelves? While we eternally hope to get back on them once we're done with our mundane duties.

Like Carl, some of us open these scrapbooks and realize it might not be too late. Take another shot. Begin a new adventure. Go for your dream.

Even if it means doing a radical and unimaginable thing such as tying balloons to a house and flying away. And it is this simple, yet honest premise that won my love for UP.

UP is reminiscent of the rainy day I went home after watching Amelie in UP Film Center. A light-hearted feeling, a renewed vigor, where I see the world in a more colorful, albeit hopeful perspective.


  1. Up's okay. WALL-E's better. Up is a decent adventure story but it has talking dogs flying planes and many other lame humor scenes that ruin it. WALL-E is pure art through and through.

  2. Ei Alina! I totally loved UP, I was a mess the first 10 minutes - yep, not yet on UP but on the cloud story. I remembered by sister...after going through a lot of pains, she managed to stay positive through it all...instead of gving up, got an armor for herself and braved the cruelty of this world. Haayyyyy...But the entire premise of UP was indeed so real. Don't lose sight of your dreams, after all...God will help us find ways to make them happen! - Jenny Rex

  3. hi alina! great blog. hope you can insert some of your 'writing passion' into running someday. see you!