Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Jodie - U is for Up

Dear Jodie,

Up really got to me.

It hooked me in the silence, as we followed Carl and Ellie's journey through life. The director Pete Docter understood the old saying, "A picture is work a thousand words."  We don't need more than a few minutes of pictures to understand that Carl and Ellie had a beautiful marriage of ups and downs, the biggest down being their inability to have children.  Yet, even that didn't matter because they had each other.

Our plot begins after Ellie dies.

Somehow, if the movie started with a curmudgeonly old man mad at everyone and everything, I wouldn't care.  There would be no movie.

But we know Carl (wonderfully voiced by Ed Asner) to be a loving man who lost half of himself and didn't know what to do with the other half . . . until!

"Cross your heart!"

He is sentenced to a "retirement home" which in my childhood people called an "old folk's home."  It's the same thing, really . . . a place for the elderly to die. And that was the meaning here.

"Cross your heart!"

But Carl had made Ellie a promise, to follow the journeys of their childhood hero the explorer Charles F. Muntz (voiced by the amazing Christopher Plummer) to Paradise Falls in South America.

So by attaching umteen thousand helium balloons to his house in danger of being absorbed into the commercial property, he begins the journey in a house hot-air balloon.

So cool!

Just as the events of life kept Carl and Ellie from getting to Paradise Falls, so too, does an accidental stowaway. A Boy Scout named Russell.

I like Russell.  He's chubby.  He's eager to please.  He's chubby.  He's eager to learn.  He's chubby.  He's eager for adventure.

Did I mention that he's chubby and eager? And thank heavens he is not smarter than the adults in the movie . . . but will be in his adult years.

I loved how Carl slowly rediscovers life and humanity and love through not only Russell, but a colorful giant of a bird named Kevin, and an eager dog Dug, able to speak thanks to a special collar.

I love how Russell receives his final merit badge for "helping the elderly," to become a senior scout and OH, how he helped the elderly.

Up for me is a story of redemption.  For Carl.  For Russell.  For the beauty of dreams and to never give up on them

I love how Carl kept his promise to his beloved Ellie, and became a father figure to Russell, whose own father had not been so great.

Oh, Jodie.  I love this movie.

Cross my heart!

8 out of 10.

What did you think?


  1. Wow, I just watched this yesterday for the first time. A friend lent me the DVD. You are so right about not needing words for moving the audience - the marriage sequence is one powerful image after the other. I was going to turn it off after we went through Ellie's death - it just made me too sad but I was glad I didn't. The bits that resonated most for me were the realisation that it "was only a house" towards the end and that Ellie's book of adventures covered their marriage. I ended up liking it a lot too.

    1. You are right, Jo! it "was only a house," resonates big time! And Ellie's book of adventures was perfect! :-)


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