The first time that I heard about this movie’s concept, I thought it was going to be pretty lame. After all, it’s just about some old guy who decides to attach a bunch of balloons to his house so that it can float away to who-knows-where, right? Well, that’s almost the same kind of perspective I had going into WALL-E and we all know how terrific that film turned out to be. I really shouldn’t doubt anything that comes out of Pixar these days. Up is no exception.
Yes, the basic premise may make it sound like this movie is not worth your while, but there is so much more going on here than meets the eye. As with other more recent Pixar movies, Up might look like it’s only for younger audiences, but there is plenty of content for more mature audiences as well.
In fact, I found that Up approached some topics that may go well over the head of the kids of the audience. It approaches death. It addresses life’s regrets. Some even say that it approaches lesbian and gay issues, but that’s debatable. There is certainly a lot more depth than Monsters vs. Aliens, a movie that is decidedly superficial by comparison.
While the visual metaphors in Up, like old man Carl dragging the burden of his floating house behind him, are remarkably obvious (the house represents his memories and his obligation to his now deceased wife), they are still very telling and thought-provoking. Along the way, we learn about friendship, loyalty, shattered dreams, and renewed perspective.
In the end, we learn that you cannot move forward if you are always looking back. Even if you’re not accompanied by a young one, I encourage you to head out to the theatre and watch Up (in 3D, if available in your area). You won’t regret it.
Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian
If you’re in the mood for some lighter-hearted fare that won’t get you to think too much, then you may want to consider this sequel to the first Night at the Museum. All of the main cast members are back for the Battle of the Smithsonian, including Ben Stiller reprising his role as Larry Daley. The one-time night guard has moved on to be a quirky informercial-fueled product inventor, effectively abandoning his animated friends from the museum.
Without giving too much away, Larry ends up at the nation’s capital surrounded by vitalized statues, figurines, and other artifacts. This includes Rodin’s Thinker, the inspiration for the Beyond the Rhetoric logo. As it turns out, that thinking statue is quite the conceited son of a gun. For me, the biggest highlight had to be Hank Azaria as Egyptian pharaoh-to-be Kahmunrah. Even warlords are human… and have a lisp.
This movie certainly has its moments, so long as you’re not expecting much in terms of character development, a plausible plot, or any kind of thought-provoking philosophical ponderings. I thought that Night at the Museum 2 was worthy of an honorable mention for this year’s summer blockbusters, but in the end, it’s going to be little more than an indiscriminate blip on the radar. At least it’s a mildly amusing blip.