You know how we've all been fine tuned by a lifetime of watching Disney movies to react with desperately strong emotions about every big eye and lonely wide shot? I went to the MGM Studios once when they still had the actual animators there, and there was that little 'fifty years of Disney' montage thing where they splice together all the parts that we know so well-- and are overwhelmed with the force of our hardwired emotions: all the sad parts all together, and the audience all sobs, all the happy parts all together and the audience laughs, all the scary parts, all the angry parts, all the cute parts. It was... distressing. I didn't particularly like knowing how I'd been manipulated, and I've been somewhat suspicious and resentful of Disney movies since then (not that I've stopped watching and loving them, only that I can see what they're doing now and I resent it a little).
Pixar does that, like, seven million times stronger, does it with a more delicate touch, and best of all, does it without any resentment from me. It's impressive. I go into Pixar movies knowing I'm going to sob like I'm made of tears, knowing that it's going to be a breakneck rollercoaster of emotions-- and I don't care. And it gets worse every time. I thought Monsters Inc was the most I could cry in a sweet movie aimed at kids. And then I saw Finding Nemo. I managed to hold off through most of Ratatooi, mostly because I was working at a restaurant at the time and there were kitchens full of rats, and then there's that part where the critic is transported back to his childhood, and I was undone for the whole rest of the movie. And now there's UP.
I loved it. The first fifteen minutes manage to show a man's whole life, his love, his dreams and how they're put off, his pain, his loss-- a whole life and all it's backstory and motivation in that first fifteen minutes with hardly any talking. And before the story even started, I was sobbing. Sobbing so I could hardly breathe, when the short beforehand (which I think is my new favorite one) had me choked up and teary-eyed already. And then I was immediately laughing when Carl is being so crochety and Russel being so hopelessly awkward-- and right back to crying when Carl tries to keep his home and has to go to court. Then back to laughing when he lets the baloons go and floats off, smug and crochety now, and Russel's on the porch... And it's like that throughout, with the chacaters dragging me along and the plot moving so swiftly that I don't have a chance to recover from one before I'm back on the other. It's amazing how they make us care about these weird little characters so quickly.
- Dug-- all of him. I want collars that make dog-talk into people-talk so I can have a dog like Dug. I especially like "I have only just met you but I LOVE you" and "Will you be my prisoner now?" and "I am warning you, bird, I am jumping on you"
- Russel and the bird. Every time we cut back, there's something silly going on-- the bird is cuddling him or tossing him around, or, the best part, where he's standing on the bird's feet and using it's legs like stilts.
- Young Ellie and her crazy hair and sudden decisions.
- Carl when he's crochety but not unreasonable; there are a few places where he gets unreasonable, and though we understand why he is, they aren't the places I liked the best.
- The Cone of Shame!
- Alpha's old voice!
- Russel's winderness badges: you only get glimpses of them through the movie, but at the credits, they show the best ones, and they're awesome. I also loved how he can have all the badges, and know so little about the training; it's both funny and really sad that someone's been letting him pass without doing anything for real, especially since he takes it so seriously.
The villain gets the Standard Disney Villain End, which is nice, because I didn't want him being so easily redeemed when he'd been loony for, what, sixty years? And he's really loony, both brilliant and animalistic all at once. And the secondary villain, Carl's inability to break his promises to Ellie so much that he can't ever let go, that's done away with too-- and I'll admit that more than a little of my sobbing at the end was because I know how hard it is to let go of things that remind you of better times, and I wanted so badly for him to be able to keep it all AND win the day, and I knew that that's now how plots work.
And it's a new top for Pixar-- I'm glad merging with Disney didn't ruin it. I never know how they're going to beat the last movie, but they did again, and I can't wait for next time.