Monday, April 25, 2011

Short Thought: "Squirrel!"

I deeply resent being told things are going to make me cry. I don't know why, but I do. If you want me not to watch something/read something/listen to something, tell me it will make me cry. I don't resent people who do, but I don't enjoy doing it myself.

There are, of course, movies and TV shows and books that make me...ahem...require the services of the Kleenex Corporation, shall we say. But I don't particularly enjoy being warned ahead of time that something will, of course and inevitably make me go all soggy.

So I avoided Pixar's latest production, Up, like the plague because that was what everyone I knew who watched it told me: "Oh, you'll cry your eyes out." "I cried so hard..." And...why would this make me want to watch a movie again? I want to cry, I'll watch The Dresser or the second part of End of Time again. Plus...something about the whole thing just looked so -- cheesy cute. I'm not a fan of heartwarming. I prefer my heartwarming accidental rather than intentional. I find the end of Terminator 2, for example, quite pleasing. You don't call me weird; I won't call you weird.

Still, this evening I was tired and feeling unwell and my parents had just watched it and raved about how good it was. Not how cute or how sobby it made them feel -- which would have made me worry about their alcohol consumption for the weekend -- but that it was a good movie. That, I will go for.

So I watched it. And it is a good movie: Pixar is a continual pleasant surprise in the quality and ability of their storytelling. The first eleven minutes and some-odd seconds of the film are...brilliant. A grand illustration -- literally -- of wordless (or nearly so) storytelling.

Once the story gets rolling in the present, of course, it's more or less your standard fairy tale: old guy is grumpy about his now deceased wife not getting to fulfill her life's wish; decides to fulfill it for her; attaches small fleet of balloons to house; takes off for South America. Er. Well, okay, maybe not quite standard, but you get the point. Pixar rings the changes quickly enough that you don't get bored and the lovely moments of character development and narration aren't subsumed under a heap of visibly fancy computer animation (although I can only imagine the skull sweat that went into making this thing.)

To cut a long story short, I was on board until the dogs started flying biplanes. Then -- I kind of opted out. Not that the ending of the story wasn't wholly satisfactory in an H. Rider Haggard/Indiana Jones-kind of way because it totally was, but there was only so far my headachey suspension of disbelief was going to stretch and that was it.

I loved Carl's storyline; was less interested in the boy, although he was sweet; and I kind of wish someone had done more with Doug. Something more like the valet-bot in Wall-E would have been nice. But, honestly, I adore Wall-E -- this really had no chance of unseating my favorite Pixar. (And it would have to work past Finding Nemo first, in any case.)

But Up is very sweet -- Carl's story is lovely -- and you don't have to go through two boxes of tissues to enjoy it either.

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