Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

May 31, 2009


Up is the name of Pixar's latest movie, just out in theaters. Adam took me to see it tonight, possibly so he could put off having to sit still and model for my drawing class. Whatever the reasoning, it was a lot of fun. Yet something about it doesn't quite add up.

I think the main problem is that the main character is not as well-characterized as any of the other characters. The old man, Mr. Fredrickson, is largely passive during the first half of the story. Things happen to him and he seems happy to go along with them. The other characters (Ellie, Russell, even the dog Dug) are initially a lot more active and motivated, so the events wander all over the place without a central unifying principle.

I think this is a result of a botched introduction of conflict. Mr. Fredrickson doesn't have any conflicted values early on in the movie. He's simply an old man with an empty future he desperately wants to escape, so he does. All of his desires and actions line up perfectly. Without a good dramatization of conflicting values, the later introduction of conflict falls rather flat.

It's really enjoyable and well worth seeing. Possibly I'm imagining these issues. But I think the movie is lacking something that would have made it fantastic instead of merely good.

1 comment:

Mark Rock said...

Sorry for commenting so long after your original post, but I just came across the site.

As you are still a fairly young individual with most of your aspirations and hopes still far out ahead of you, I am not overly surprised that you you do not get the lack of conflict in the early part of the movie.

I'd suggest you reconsider by first comparing your initial thoughts as logged here about the movie to the other blog note on your site about working hard versus effectively.

The old man, when younger, worked hard. I think it is safe to assume he worked hard both in a professional sense (he had a nice enough home, he saved) and also at loving his wife. He lived his life with her and were mostly happy as they dreamed and saved towards their goal(s), but never quite got to follow through with it or consider how long it was taking.

That is the antagonist of the early portion of the film. Apathy or at least a willingness to put off doing today what he wanted to do for some ill conceived future.

Eventually he learns to live (again) in the moment. He picks up a new goal -- and lives it.