1) We paid the extra couple of bucks to watch in 3-D. The 3-D was so well-done, so utterly natural and looked so good that we all stopped noticing it after the first fifteen minutes. Not really worth the money.
2) Why is everyone saying this film is such a weepy? Yes, right at the start of the film (in the film’s best sequence), the main character meets a girl, falls in love, gets married, has a long and happy lifetime with his love, and then she dies once they’re both in old age. We should all have misery like that.
Because I had heard so many “bring a hanky” comments, I really expected a major character (maybe the dog?) to die at the end of the film. This probably improved the film for me, since I actually thought a major character might die.
3) The bad: Even for Pixar, the lack of female characters in this movie is extraordinary; of two important female characters, one is the protagonist’s wife who dies in the first fifteen minutes, the other is a bird named Kevin. Why is Pixar unable to imagine a story with a female lead? Needless to say, it fails the Bechdel Test.
4) The good: The main character is elderly, which makes UP the only children’s flick I can think of to feature an old protagonist.
5) The even better: The secondary protagonist, Russell, is a fat little boy — and there isn’t a single joke about his size, anywhere in the film.1 A positive, non-buffoon fat character with no fat jokes — That’s pretty much illegal in a children’s movie, isn’t it?
Heather MacAllister once said:
Any time there is a fat person onstage as anything besides the butt of a joke, it’s political. Add physical movement, then dance, then sexuality and you have a revolutionary act.
6) In addition, Russell is a positive, non-stereotypical Asian character, and the actor who did Russell’s voice, Jordon Nagai (who was seven years old when they cast the part), is also Asian-American. In a more reasonable world the race of actors doing the voices in animated films wouldn’t matter at all; but with major live-action movies casting white actors to play characters that were originally Asian (as in “21” and “The Last Airbender”), it’s nice to see Pixar go the other way.
7) And by the way, good story, good animation, and lots of great visuals. The dog characters were pretty consistently funny, as well.
- He does have trouble climbing a rope, but the way they depicted that didn’t emphasize his fat. [↩]