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The Beauty of Pixar’s “Up”

It may be a few years old, but Pixar’s animated feature Up is a great go-to DVD choice for a family movie night. One high point, in particular, stands out in our review.

by Adrienne Thorne

I first watched Pixar’s Up years ago, probably around the time it came out on DVD, and I remember liking it, but honestly the movie as a whole was not extremely memorable for me.

What is it about? The answer is a little bit vague: There’s this old guy, and this boy, and the guy gets his house up in the sky using balloons, and there’s this bird… Yeah, it doesn’t sound that great.

So why, years later, did the movie come to mind as a must to put on our family Christmas list and add to our collection, now that I have a little cartoon-loving kid?

It’s one set of scenes…

Even though I couldn’t quite recall what the rest of the movie was about, I certainly remembered the one beautiful, heart-wrenching-in-the-best-way set of scenes. It’s about two minutes, with no dialogue. And it does what other movies spend two hours trying to do. And this scene does it more powerfully.

We watch Carl Fredricksen, as a little boy, meet his future wife Ellie as a little girl. That part has dialogue. But then we get this sweet little montage of them growing up, falling in love, getting married, getting excited to have a baby, getting news from a doctor that we conclude means they cannot have children, and growing old together.

It sounds simple enough, but it makes be bawl like a baby every time. “They want to have babies,” I blubber. “They want babies so bad, and they can’t!” And I sob and die a little. Heck, I even teared up describing the scene to my sister last Christmas (granted I was full of postpartum hormones, and possibly a shot of tequila, ahem). The point is, it’s freaking beautiful. And pro-life. And heart-wrenching.

And it’s not just the baby thing. Even after that part, the two of them keep growing sweetly old together, until finally she dies… in a completely non-The Notebook way. I promise, it’s neither depressing nor sap-porn. It’s just lovely.

What about the rest of the movie?

Good question. If the movie has one drawback, it kind of drags after a while. Kids continue to love it, and it’s definitely not terrible, but the quest of the old guy and the annoying little boy who has attached himself to Carl does start to feel a little long eventually. Carl is just trying to get his house to a quiet resting spot in “Paradise Falls” (by means of balloons, of all things), and I have to admit I kind of just want him to get there and finally relax for the rest of his life.

But the remaining story is still sweet, fairly fun, and innocent.

It’s rated PG…

For… what exactly? “Some peril and action.” I guess gone are the days when a fiery fight to the death or an assassination by wildebeest stampede can be cool in a G rating (The Lion King). Well, my three year old was certainly not phased by Up‘s… chase sequences? Talk of hunting a bird? Definitely pretty mild stuff.

If nothing else…

Watch it for that early, two-minute montage. For an example and a proof that sweet, innocent love can be shown on screen. And because, as a bonus, as if to prove they were just that good, these guys accomplished it without even using any words.

The art of cinema at its finest. In a cartoon movie.

Adrienne Thorne blogs at Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic’s Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.

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Adrienne Thorne is a Catholic screenwriter and mother of two little boys. She blogs about TV and Movies, both good and bad, for kids and adults at thorneintheflesh.com.

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