Sunday, May 31, 2009

Movie / Up

Ho-Hum. Time for John Lasseter to Retire? [This comment may contain spoilers]

A rare stumble. When every movie you've made (before) was a breakout hit, a fatal malaise can set in where you think every idea you have is good.

"Up" is a case in point. Is this a kids movie or an Ibsen drama? The film starts with an unrelated short about storks bringing new babies. Already we are thinking, "huh?" Then the hero (a sidewalk balloon vendor) ages from 7 to 78. Touching but cartoonish. Scene change. Then he transports his house to South America with a mockery of an ethnic Cub Scout in tow, where they meet a giant bird. Then his childhood hero, an accused fraudster, who should be at least 120 by now, appears and turns out to be a creep.

All this time they never meet another human or animal, besides the villain and his dogs, despite that those forests would be teeming with tribesmen, lizards, other birds, and so on. Like a stage play in which a few characters do everything. Dora the Explorer does a better job of portraying wilderness.

The cardinal sin: the characters never change. The old man and the demented pseudo Cub Scout emerge exactly as they were before. Pixar markets itself as being about great storytelling, not just animation, but here they goofed. You'll walk out wondering, "what was that?"

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