Disney/Pixar’s Up has been the rage of reviews since it opened. Looking fun and having a cool story, I decided to take my 6th grade daughter and her friend last weekend, and was joined by just about every other family in a 10-mile radius – the theatre was packed with kids in age from young toddlers to older teens.
It’s not a surprising sight these days to see young kids in a PG movie. Most animated movies these days are PG and most turn out ok. In this case, though, perhaps we all should have previewed the film before taking our kids – or perhaps the reviewers should have looked at the film more realistically from the eyes of kids under 13 instead of through their very adult lenses.
We all entered that theatre expecting the terrific animated adventure we had read about. We were all aware that the start of the film included a quick image of the passing of main character’s wife – but then expected the mood to lighten. It never did. Not a single person left that film with a happy look.
The movie was, indeed, a cinematic masterpiece in many, many ways. However, it was just too emotionally charged well beyond the opening montage with action that was far more intense for small children than any review had described. Ed Asner’s character, Carl, was so clearly in love with his late wife, Elle, that you could feel his grief throughout the movie. That theme was palpable until the very, very end – so much so that I had a few moments where I felt choked up. Looking over at my daughter and her friend during those times, they, too, had tears in their eyes.
Part of the issue, by the way, was the melancholy music which, other than the adventure moments, was incredibly pervasive. The other part of the issue was the bad guy – the adventurer we met in the opening scene when Carl was a small boy. He turns just plain creepy and evil – Indiana Jones nemesis evil, but animated.
Having now seen the movie, the issue is that the reviews all looked at the movie for its Oscar-worthiness and not for its kid-appropriateness. For example, Atopic Popcorn wrote: “Pixar has crafted a film that is their finest to date and so far, is the best film of the year.” Nowhere in that review does it dissect the emotion of the flick or whether this really is a movie meant for kids under 13 at all.
However, another review from the Telegraph gives us a more realistic assessment of Up by noting that this is the first animated film to ever open at the Cannes. That alone is telling and an indicator of the overall emotional temperature of the film. The review goes on to say: “The film, in its aerial beauty and its melancholic undertow, recalls Albert Lamorrise's The Red Balloon and Hiyao Miyzaki's Howl's Moving Castle. No recent animated picture has been quite so suffused with an awareness of human mortality.”
There you have it: “melancholic undertow” and “human mortality”. The only part this review left out is that those 2 themes were every present and quite intense.
So, who is Up meant for? Adults for sure, teens if they know what they are in for, and mature tweens. Keep in mind this is PG…and really should be PG-13 given the thematic content.