Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is "UP" too sad?

I finally saw Pixar's "UP" last night. Brilliant of course, like all Pixar movies. And beautiful.

However, it was REALLY sad. I mean, I'd heard it was sad, but I didn't expect to still have a feeling of melancholy when the movie was over...

Was that just me? Or were there others who ended the film less than jubilant? And if so, is that an appropriate tone for a kid's movie?

Pixar is brilliant because their films can be enjoyed by any age demographic. I will never forget the sense of awe I experienced when watching "Wall-E" and realizing that my 3-year-old charge was just as riveted to the screen as I was. Now that takes talent.

However the fact remains that the movies, technically, are kid's films. And people don't expect kids films to be sad. Perhaps a moment of tragedy in the beginning, such as when Simba looses his father, or Nemo his mother, but the sorrow of such moments are usually quickly forgotten and while they may affect the tone of the movie, rarely leave me with a lasting melancholy.

The emotion I felt at the end of "UP" was getting a little too close to the emotion I felt at the end of Titanic.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration (I was bawling at the end of Titanic), but my point is that there are few films other than those that deal with history or Shakespeare that carry that kind of emotion. And I just have to wonder if it's appropriate for a kid's film?

Or am I blowing this whole thing out of proportion?

I guess I just didn't expect to end a Pixar movie feeling depressed. Even though it was a wonderful movie and I loved it. I expect to feel happy and uplifted after Pixar. Not... sad.


Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean about "UP" having a running thread of sadness. It's probably accentuated by the fact that the image the audience is left with is of Karl and - oh, I'm terribly sorry, but I can't remember the boy's name - sitting on the sidewalk together, with Karl virtually taking the father's place. It's bittersweet. Neither of them attained what they set out to find, which were Ellie and the boy's father, even if they didn't realize what they were. However, they do have this new beautiful relationship. And yes, it's sad. But beautiful.

I've been moved to tears by UP. There was a particular day when I had to be careful that I didn't let it get me into a blue funk about my Grandpa. But I've also had resounding, wonderful laughter after watching it.

In my opinion, we should also remember that there's a good deal of over-the-top, wacky fun in that movie. The dogs, the balloons, the bird, the fight of the old men, the sheer absurdity of lugging the house around the tropics. In my opinion, only more perceptive children, who are more likely to be ready to deal with it, will be drawn to dwell on the sadness. Otherwise, they'll probably fix more on the spirit of the end credits, which puts us back in the world of the dogs and the bird. If children do find it depressing, maybe it would make a good subject of discussion with their parents. After all, it's not as though it offers a message too shocking for young ears. It's really a facet of life that we all face.

And that's the thing about UP. Even with all the the quirky jungle/explorer/just plain out of right field humour, it's a film about life. It's UPs - and it's downs. One adventure to the next. With suffering, but also with joy. The opening sequence with Ellie and Karl + the scene where he finally looks past the "Stuff I'm Going to Do" page in the book and finds his courage to go on really encapsulate the enitre story - um, without the airships and everything.

Two final thoughts. I wasn't expecting UP to be that way either. But now that I know what it is, I think it's a masterpiece of children's cinema.

And - our dog had to spend five days in the Cone of Shame this past week. There is an incredible glee in calling it that. :)

Kinsey said...

Both of my grandparents are dead, and my parents are older, but for me Up! has always been a cheerful and reassuring movie. It is true, there is a thread of sadness in it, but it isn't the focus. What IS the focus, is importance of giving your all to what you are called to do each moment, and not regretting a moment of the life that you've lead. I'll always love the symbolism of Carl finally letting go of the house, and all the material things he thought were important to him, in order to save Russell.
It is, in my opinion, Pixar's best story.

Christina said...

People have criticized Up because it's not as "kid-friendly" as many of Pixar's other films. HOWEVER, I think that it was reaching for an adult audience as well as a kid audience this time.

I mean, Pixar's movies can certainly be watched by any agegroup, but Up dealt with some heavy issues. Death. Divorce. Holding on to the past instead of living life. It almost reached for adults more than kids, and Pixar definitely taught some lessons that hit home.

It IS sad, perhaps too sad for some kids--but it didn't dwell on the sadness and let you sink into depression. It brought you Up out of the sadness and showed the characters dealing with it and finding joy. That's what made it a really good movie.


Hydra said...

"Up" had me in tears, too, but I thought it was beautiful in the end, not melancholy. Plus, I think sadness is completely appropriate for a kids film. I don't like movies that are all fluff and smiles. I don't think children should be exposed to dark movies, but I also don't like it when they're overly sheltered. At any rate, sadness happens, and many young people are exposed to sadness in the real world through the death of a grandparent or other close relative. Though I must admit I would probably have thought the touching scenes in "Up" very boring when I was little. :)
From Books to Movie and Back Again

Carpe Guitarrem said...

It's been a long time since I've seen the movie...but I recall it being a very uplifting film at the end. Both Russell and Carl found the family that they were looking for, and Carl particularly let go of his "comfort brooding", and did Ellie proud by living her legacy.

Kelsey said...

This is kind of late but...I found this post very, very interesting, because I think it represents the POV of quite a few adults.

I watched the movie with five younger siblings and a roomful of their friends. The adults all got teary in places, the kids didn't! I think the melancholy in Up is subtle in places (like the end. No kid I know would pick up on Carl being there instead of Russell's father as bittersweet) and it goes over the head of a lot of kids.

But if they do pick it up, why is that a bad thing? Life happens. Sadness happens. Parents DO die and divorce. Katherine Paterson put it well, when she said that true-to-life YA fiction is practise (in a way) for when children actually do go through those things and experience those emotions. They have something to draw on and the knowledge that someone else got through.

So I was pleasantly surprised to see some more "adult" and serious themes explored in Up. Definitely my favourite Pixar. :)