After the double-whammy of Ratatouille and Wall-E, I had high hopes for Up, particularly as I’d read very little about the plot beyond the initial set-up (sort of like Gran Torino meets Indiana Jones in a surreal road-trip), but while it has some good gags and thrilling action set-pieces (maybe not best for those with vertigo), I feel it didn’t quite gel together so well.
The plot itself stems from an absurd flight of fancy and so seemingly does the rest of the film. For what is essentially a ‘road movie’ (an often enjoyable but lazy sub-genre used as an excuse to string together disparate side characters and vignettes), despite the odd dips into the surreal, it was too conventional and predictable, sacrificing believable character development for sentimentality, and relying a little too much on whimsy and cuteness. Without the admittedly funny but obvious supporting animal companions, there’d be even less to it. It didn’t manage to balance the fun and enjoyment with the emotional heart-string tugging of previous Pixar efforts and, as such, didn’t hold my attention quite like, dare I say it, Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda, even though I understand they’re trying to achieve entirely different things. Maybe a bad example.
I liked Up for the most part, and it’s still an impressive piece of work (plus the 3D is not used in a gimmicky fashion, relying on creating depth rather than jumping out of the screen, though it’s still non-essential). And with Pixar comes a certain quality guarantee that it won’t rely on celebrity voiceovers, pop culture references and toilet humour. But it’s overall a bit of a disappointment.
Oh, and the short beforehand was not one of the better ones either. Not quite Boundin’ awful (though it has some horrible character designs too), but desperately twee.