Blogiversary Bash: Why Up Wins at Pixar

Party Sheep is a baaaaad boy. Heh. Heh heh. See what I did there? ...Yeah, I'll shut up now.

Party Sheep is a baaaaad boy. Heh. Heh heh. See what I did there? See? …Yeah, I’ll shut up now.

For Blogiversary Bash so far, I’ve covered comedy gold, superhero awesomeness, and quotes from one of the most quotable films of all time. What next? Well, it only seems right to delve into the world of animated films. I’m a grown-up, but I have absolutely no shame in admitting that I loved animated films–some more than others, of course, but I think well-done animated films are great since they can appeal to such a wide range of people. And in this gal’s opinion, few studios understand animated films quite like Pixar does. It may have gotten a little sequel-heavy of late, but I still marvel at the creativity of so many of Pixar’s films. Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL-E–all of them are modern masterpieces. But for me, Up trumps every one of them. I don’t know what it is, but this film just resonates with me on a deeper level than any of the others (though I love the others as well). So let’s just take a minute to celebrate the many reasons why this hilarious, touching, and ridiculously creative film wins at Pixar.

#1: With little to no dialogue, it tells an epic love story…in under ten minutes.

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Carl (Edward Asner) and Ellie could be my favorite animated couple ever. They meet as children–Carl, shy and quiet as a mouse, and Ellie, loud and bold and constantly jabbering. Their active imaginations and desire for adventure bring them together and keep them together for many long years. Pixar shows us a sequence of their married life, and we watch as they grow older, going through things all couples go through, but with a sad twist right at the start that hits you in the gut. This sequence always makes me feel feelings, but when I watched it this time…gees. I don’t know if I was just tired or whatever, but I felt it, man. Sob city. And I never cry during movies. It just goes to show what a masterful job Pixar did with this.

No shame, yall.

No shame, y’all.

#2: Carl has perfectly choreographed morning routine.

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It’s a short scene, but as proven by the above sequence, Pixar knows how to use a short amount of time for a big effect. Instead of tears, this delightful scene encourages laughter as it shows dour-faced Carl going about his humdrum morning, all of his actions perfectly choreographed to “Habanera” from the opera Carmen (and, yes, I did have to Google that). This scene is a brilliant way to help us recover from the heartbreaking beginning of the film, setting the tone for much more humor to come.

#3: Russell. Just…everything about Russell.

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Meet Russell (Jordan Nagai)–chubster, chatterbox, Wilderness Explorer, and easily one of the cutest kids in the world of Pixar (just barely beaten by Boo of Monsters, Inc., in my opinion). Russell is hilarious and adorable from the minute he knocks on Carl’s door, but he serves a much more important role than comic relief: he is both Carl’s foil and the person who gives Carl’s life some meaning again. Separated by at least 60 years, they’re an odd pair, and they have a pretty rocky start, but eventually Carl becomes the father/grandfather figure Russell so desperately wants, and Russell becomes the pseudo son/grandson Carl didn’t even know he needed. Utter perfection.

#4: Carl’s house + lots and lots of balloons = MAGIC

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This could very well be my favorite scene in all of Pixar. In a thoroughly surprisingly, whimsical, and–heck, I’ll say it–uplifting moment, Carl escapes his would-be captors by sending up hundreds of multi-colored balloons to pull his house from the ground and float to the freedom of his beloved Paradise Falls. I love everything about the moment–the onlookers’ faces, the colors the balloons send dancing across a little girl’s room, the absurd image of  the house floating between buildings–it’s all so wonderful and beautiful. Is it physically impossible? Probably. But who cares? It’s Pixar–they can do what they want if it looks this awesome.

#5: Kevin the “snipe” cracks me up.

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I can honestly say that I’ve never laughed at a big, dumb bird quite the way I laugh at inappropriately named Kevin. I say “inappropriately named” because Kevin is a girl. Whoops. Wall-eyed, squawking Kevin is 100% silly and probably meant to appeal more to kiddos, but I find it impossible not to laugh at a giant rainbow bird with wings as tiny as T-Rex claws. Back me up, guys–do you laugh at Kevin, too? Or do I have the sense of humor of a six-year-old? I’ll admit that the latter is not entirely impossible.

#6: DUG THE DOG IS MY FAVORITE.

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For those of you who have been with me since April, you may remember me gushing about my love of Dug (Bob Peterson) in this post, so I’m sure you predicted that I would be talking about him again on here. But how can you not talk about Dug? This sweet, golden retriever-esque pup and his talking collar provide so much hilarity. You can’t help but feel that if dogs could talk, they would sound exactly like Dug. He’s a thoroughly imagined, thoroughly fun character, and–SQUIRREL! …Sorry, what was I saying? Anyway, if you haven’t seen Dug’s extra little video, Dug’s Special Mission, I highly recommend having a watch below.

#7: Carl’s strange adventure cleverly ties in with the old video at the beginning of the film.

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At the very beginning of the film, we see young Carl in a movie theater, watching a video about his childhood hero, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer). It’s a cute little video, but you don’t really think anything of it…until the story comes full circle and brings us directly to an elderly Muntz, who has been searching in Paradise Falls for Kevin’s species his entire life. Suddenly, Carl’s hero becomes the villain of the story, willing to do anything to get what he wants–including hurt or kill Carl and even young Russell. Villainizing Muntz may be a surprising move, but it’s a subtle, clever way to help Carl let go of the past and look to the present. Plus, Christopher Plummer is pretty awesome at making Muntz sound evil, so I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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#8: Take all of the epic fights you’ve ever seen and forget about them–old man fights win. Yes, even animated ones.

Really, what else can I say? If two old men fighting can’t at least make you crack a smile, then you may not be a real person. Pixar gets a round of applause for this one.

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#9: The most adorable babies are saved for the very end.

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Gosh darn it if Kevin’s little fuzzball babies aren’t the most adorable things ever. Just when Kevin’s schtick of squawking and choking on tennis balls is starting to seem repetitive, the babies do it, and it is hilarious all over again.

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Also, can someone please get me one of these?

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Belated birthday present? Please?

#10: The ending is perfect, and it may make you cry all over again.

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Seriously, guys, the FEELINGS. This film will make you feel them. At the end of this amazing tale, you just have to sit and take it all in for minute. Because…*sob*…THIS HAPPENS:

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CARL THOUGHT THE HOUSE DIDN’T MAKE IT, BUT IT’S RIGHT WHERE IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE!!! OH GAWD!!! IT’S PERFECT!!! *sob sob sob*

…Um. *ahem* Sorry about that. Anyway, so that’s why Up rocks, but if none of that convinced you, here’s a picture of Carl and Russell as Batman and Robin:

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34 thoughts on “Blogiversary Bash: Why Up Wins at Pixar

  1. Yay! Epic post, Cara!!! : ) Oh my god I’ve NEVER made it through the beginning of Up. EVER. Pixar does that sort of emotional stuff better than ANYONE. And it’s not at all contrived – it feels very real. Oh god – I think I’m tearing up just thinking about Carl & Ellie again!!!!!! : (

  2. Yes, I suppose if the rest of this review failed (it didn’t) to compel me, I think the Batman & Robin pic at the end would’ve sealed the deal. Lol. that’s funny!!

    Up sounds fantastic. I couldn’t remember if it was this film or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs that packed a surprisingly emotional punch. It sounds like it’s this. I’ll be sure to access this sometime soon. I’ve had a hankering for animated films recently. And Pixar is really a great place to go for that. 😀

  3. I loooove Up! I’ll never forget watching this in the cinema and trying so hard to not collapse into tears, but hearing everyone else in the theatre sniffling as well. Definitely one of my favourite Pixars too. A most excellent list! 🙂

  4. Great tribute lady, but I must say that Up did absolutely NOTHING for me, I was not a fan of it at all. It had the most beautiful love story in the beginning, and I thought that was fantastic. But that is almost where it ends. I think I wanted so much more from this movie and just didn’t get it. I was really nonplussed as to why it is so immensely popular… oh well.

    I am so happy that you love it so much though, because loving something to bits and pieces is awesome, and the feeling you get from it? Unbeatable!

  5. Pingback: July 2014 Favourites | FILM GRIMOIRE

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