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Charm & grace

"Charm & grace" Continued...

Issue: "Tiananmen massacre," June 6, 2009

It is a story's ability to draw people into common experience that Docter, who is like his Pixar colleague Andrew Stanton a Christian, says best allows him to exercise his faith in his work. "There's something of the divine in the way we respond to stories and how we're created as people-that we're so driven by relationship that even when we know we're just looking at a bunch of drawings, we still connect emotionally. In making these worlds I feel closer to God through working out the details of my creation as He must have worked out the details of His creation. Before I wrote out the character of Carl, I thought about his life story-where he came from and what went into to making him who he is so he would feel as rich and real as he possibly could. And that seems a bit like God with us-I know everything about him, and took great joy in making him."

Fulfilling dreams

By Megan Basham

In the first 10 minutes of its latest release, Up, Pixar demonstrates why it has gained a reputation as a studio of unequalled integrity and originality. In that short span, the audience is treated to the meeting, marriage, and parting of Carl and Ellie Fredricksen, a pair of wide-eyed kids who trade the fantasy of life in the jungle for a more domestic, but no less interesting dream. With minimal dialogue, Carl (Ed Asner) and Ellie make us laugh and break our hearts at their experiences of love and loss.

From this montage, Up picks up with the rest of Carl's story. Left without his lifelong partner, Carl grows more cantankerous and more isolated until the day he decides to chuck civilization entirely and pursue the adventure he and Ellie once envisioned as kids. He soon finds, though, thanks to a young stowaway named Russell (Jordan Nagai), that civilization still has need of him, and he has the opportunity to fulfill more than one of Ellie's dreams.

One of the boldest aspects of Up, besides featuring a 78-year-old main character, is the lovely portrayal it offers of marriage. Countless animated films include a bride being caught up by a handsome prince, but few portray an ongoing commitment and love that deepens over years.

Heavy stuff for a kids' flick? Perhaps, but writer/director Pete Docter fills it with such hilarious characters and breathtaking artwork, the kids won't even notice. What parents will notice is that as funny as Up is-and it is often uproariously funny-its laughs flow from the interactions of the characters, not from adult-oriented, tacked-in jokes.

Without cynicism, without the hottest stars (unless you consider Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer hot stars), and without snarky, inappropriate humor, Up entertains kids and pulls on grownup heartstrings.

Megan Basham
Megan Basham

Megan, a regular correspondent for WORLD News Group, is a writer and film critic living in Charlotte, N.C. She is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All.


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