Without a doubt, this is Disney’s finest achievement to date, ever. The graphics were sublime, suffused with warmth and dedicated attention to detail. The coloured light refracted from the balloons, the fabrics, the pennies in the Paradise Falls jar…they were all beautifully rendered. The storytelling is something that Disney lost track of for a while, I feel. Watered down sequels and pandering to the irritation of pop culture (see Shark Tale, Pocahontas 2, Mulan 2, High School Musical and Hannah Montana) took Disney away from what they did best: telling a story that is timeless and heartfelt.
Up is the story of an old man who deals with his wife’s passing by fulfilling the dream they couldn’t quite manage during their lifetime: going to Paradise Falls. The savings jar is constantly chipped into to repair tyres, pay medical bills and keep up with life’s expenses. The story of their life is rich in detail; Ellie’s infertility (so delicately and kindly handled), their house that they spent time in as kids, their hobbies, their picnics, their aging…there has never been so magnificently handled a story as the ten minutes dealing with their relationship before the movie begins with the main plot. I was crying, and crying and crying, because Ellie and Carl are the most wonderful and profound couple to ever share their story and if anyone is lucky enough to have such a relationship in their life, then they are truly rich in a way most of us will never be.
The characters…oh, the characters. Ellie is the most wonderful woman to appear in a Disney movie since Mulan. She steals the movie even though she isn’t in it for the most part, and we share Carl’s deep love for her because of how she inspired him to follow the dream. I particularly loved her addition to the Adventure Book: “thank you for the adventures…now go have a new one!” The story also deals with the ostracising of the old, the fat, the lonely. Russell, the fat Asian kid who loves animals and the outdoors, deals with the divorce of his parents and his absentee father. Dug the dog is a wonderful character, who says things like “I hid under your porch because I love you” and who is dedicated to being the very best dog he can be. I love it when children’s movies are about loving and respecting animals, something our society really doesn’t encourage enough.
Without a doubt, Up is my very favourite Disney movie. It is sublime in its storytelling and generous in detail and dedication. I still get teary when I think about it, which just goes to show that it is still possible to make a great movie that doesn’t rely on stereotypes, big budgets and big-name directors. If Up had been drawn and done in black and white, it would still have been a phenomenal movie.