May 30, 2009

Best Non-Festival Movie Weekend of the Year

So, on Thursday, I went where no one had gone before with Stark Trek. Friday, I was dragged to hell with Sam Raimi, and today I went Up with Disney / Pixar.

Not to mention that I was able to see I Love You, Phillip Morris Friday night thanks to the Nashville Screenwriters Conference, NowPlayingNashville.com, and Nashville Pride - a movie currently slated for release in February of 2010.

All in all it made for a great movie-going weekend. Star Trek was a great franchise reboot (as I wrote earlier). Drag Me to Hell was good old-fashioned goofy horror done only the way Sam Raimi could do it. I Love You, Phillip Morris is an enjoyable blend of Catch Me if You Can and Brokeback Mountain starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor (who is fantastic, by the way), but the winner of the weekend is Disney / Pixar's Up.

Up is a remarkable achievement and is yet another fine feather in the Pixar cap. Carl (wonderfully voiced by Ed Asner) is a widowed balloon salesman belligerently holding on to the house he and his late wife Ellie purchased after their marriage as gargantuan condo buildings rise around him. Since his wife's passing, he's shut himself in - his biggest adventure is to the mailbox. But when Ellie was alive, the two dreamed of going on an adventure to Paradise Falls in South America - a place they both fell in love with as children thanks to the explorer Charles Muntz (viewed in a newsreel in the introduction). When an encounter with a construction worker goes wrong, Carl stands to lose the house and be shipped off to a nursing home. But Carl has an idea to save his home and fulfill his promise to Ellie to live beside Paradise Falls. And he has the balloons and the helium to do it.

The fantasy of it all (one does have to suspend disbelief significantly to go along with a house being lifted off its foundation by balloons and flying to South America) is grounded in one of the most romantic, tender-hearted tales told on the screen in some time. The montage that shows us the joys and pitfalls of Carl and Ellie's life together is one of the great moments of recent film history and tells a more complete story than 90% of the films Up is competing against for your box office dollars. It's this reality and this warmth that makes the goofiness that much more fun. When Carl arrives (along with an unwanted stowaway - a young scout trying to get his "Assisting the Elderly" badge) in South America the stage is set for full-fledged fun and wildly inventive action set pieces. There's so much eye-popping fun to be had that it nearly boggles the mind. But in the end, it's all about the simple message that life itself is the adventure.

The weather's beautiful right now and it's hard to pull yourself into a dark theater when it's so lovely outside, but Up reminds you that the beauty of an unfettered imagination is one of the few things that can rival the beauty of nature.

1 comment:

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