I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Up

tn_upWelcome to another episode of Vern’s Soft Side. In this episode, Vern cries at a fuckin cartoon.

Okay, short version first: just go see the fuckin thing. This review is gonna have spoilers in the sense that I’m gonna talk it up, you’re gonna go in expecting this or that based on what I said, it’s gonna get to your analytical mind and might fuck everything up. So don’t read this. Also disregard what I said above about crying, I would never cry, come on man let’s be serious here.

UP is the latest Pixar and somehow tops everything they’ve done before. For all the mediocrity and horribleness going on in our world today, we are lucky to live in the golden age of Pixar. Who knows how long their streak could last, but watching their movies now feels like watching PINOCCHIO and BAMBI and all those coming from the same group of people in a row. It’s just incredible, nobody else can match what they’re doing.

mp_upThere’s this cliche about movies like SHREK and all the different comedy cartoons that have come since Robin Williams did the Arsenio Hall impression in ALADDIN. They say those are good cartoons because they work on two levels: for the kids it’s a cartoon that moves around in front of them, for the adults there is sophisticated humor such as a reference to a TV show that you know about, and that’s why it’s funny, you have seen that show before or know people who have seen it and told you what it was one time.

Well, UP blows that shit out of the water by really truly hitting at what kids want and what adults want at the same time, and not by appealing to the lowest common denominator or the easiest jokes. No, this is a fantasy adventure comedy with some great action sequences, some colorful creatures, easily the most laughs of any Pixar movie and yet also it hits on profound emotional life issues much more effectively than most serious adult dramas and what not.

Also it’s Pixar’s version of GRAN TORINO: grouchy old man loses his wife, stubbornly stays in his old house in a rapidly changing neighborhood, reluctantly befriends young Asian neighbor, they help each other to learn life lessons. There is less shooting and racism, though, and more flying.

Hopefully you’ve already seen it so I’m not gonna give anything away, but holy shit, I was crying in the first ten minutes of this god damn movie. I was crying before it even truly got sad. In the dialogue-free montage through decades of Karl and Ellie’s life together you see so much happiness, so much struggle, so much dreaming and almost but not quite achieving. And more than almost any movie it seems to capture the feeling of a real loving relationship and because time is moving so fast it becomes sad because you know at this rate their life together is fleeting. It hits you because you’re sad for what happens to these fictional characters, but also because it makes you think about your own life and where you are on achieving your dreams or finding happiness, about whether you have enough time or if you fucked up and got too off course.

In this one sequence it tells you in images so much about the way people want to do things with their lives, but don’t always get to. About how important that dream is not only to the person but to the person who loves them. You see how Karl wants more than anything to see Ellie get what she wants. You see how they fall into a routine and time passes and they fear that maybe they haven’t really done what they wanted to with their time together, that they’ve wasted their lives and lost sight of what was once important to them, and maybe still should be, but they don’t really know.

It has so many deeply relatable things for adults that I end up with tears rolling down my cheek like I got pepper sprayed. I look to my left, the gal next to me is worse than me. To my right I hear somebody blowing snot. Then somewhere to the left. The kids are all laughing at the jokes and the adults are all crying. So fuck you SHREK and your “ha ha, the donkey said a line from the theme song from THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, they threw that one in for the adults.”

I mean this is the most emotional thing I have seen in a cartoon so far that does not involve the bombing of Hiroshima. If the first ten minutes of UP was Andrew “Dice” Clay it would say, “Jesse the Cowgirl montage in TOY STORY 2? I fucked it.”

It really does work on multiple levels at the same time. Like the early scenes where construction is going on around his house. In the story it’s an excuse for why he has to fly away with his house. But emotionally it’s about the feeling of getting older and the world changing around you and stubbornly wanting to stand your ground. Or toward the end when he dumps all the furniture and things out of his house. Story-wise of course he has to make the house lighter in order for it to fly. But an adult can’t help but also see that he’s casting off all the shit he’s accumulated over the years. Earlier all that stuff was important to him because it reminded him of his wife, but now he realizes it’s just stuff, it’s not the objects that are important but the actual experiences.

(dude, Fight Club.)

You know what? I bet this is the first time in cinematic history that a 3-D movie makes people cry. I mean there might’ve been some teary-eyed emotional moments in JAWS 3-D or COMIN’ AT YA, but not full on tears. This brings up alot of questions about the technology, is it a problem to have salty deposits on the lenses, does it break the illusion for somebody to have to take off the glasses to wipe away their eyes, etc.

(By the way, the 3-D looks great and brings you even more into the detailed Pixar world, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If you don’t have one of those theaters near you or don’t want to spend the extra couple bucks don’t worry about it, see the movie in regular-D.)

I said, and still believe, that WALL-E is a masterpiece. Its one flaw is that the first section is such a perfect, jawdropping and completely unique masterwork of filmatic imagery that the rest of the movie, by being merely superb, is kind of a letdown to some people. This one does not have that minor structural problem. It’s front-loaded with that emotion but it’s perfect because then you know why this matters. It makes a dude pulling a house across a cliff seem like the most important thing in the world, because we have watched his whole life before that and we know what it means to him. You laugh and have a fun time with his relationship with his young neighbor Russell (as well as a dog and a bird) and some crazy death defying shenanigans and what not, but it’s all anchored in this ritualistic quest to fulfill his wife’s dream for her posthumously. It’s about his relationship with his dead wife. I thought I was fine with that, I thought I was a man again, then that last image snuck up on me and got me crying like a bitch again. So perfect.

Pixar, I don’t know if you guys have seen TYSON or not. But maybe it’s time to hang it up. I don’t see how you can top this one. In conclusion, Pixar, did it ever occur to you that maybe some people want to retain their emotional fluids, and not have them just leak out in public? Thumbs down.mp_up2

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, May 31st, 2009 at 12:10 am and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

92 Responses to “Up”

  1. I used to always cry after watching The Blue Lagoon. I haven’t seen that movie since I was about four or five so I can’t recall what about it made me cry. I think a baby dies or something. I should pick it up to see if it has the same affect on me now.

  2. I even cry everytime I see Galaxy Quest, when Alan Rickman says “By Grabthar’s hammer” to his biggest fan. (Don’t wanna say too much and spoil it for those who haven’t seen it. Those who have seen it, know which scene I’m talking about.)
    But I never cried during the Cowgirl montage in Toy Story 2. It’s a touching moment, but the horrible song that they play in this moment is very distracting.

  3. I cried with E.T. , when I was 4 years old. I was too young to understand that , but now that I’m older i think I appreciate more the emotional spectrum that the best movies are able to transmit . And I’m not talking about the excitement of watching “Hard Boiled” , and don’t get me started on the “BooH!!!” moments of what passes for “horror” this days. I love movies that are able to put me in a particular mood or emotional state. For example , the unnerving and tense last scene of “There will be blood”.I was literally grasping my throat watching the last minutes of that movie.

    Also : Vern , if you want to watch a kick-ass adult cartoon , watch “Ghost in the shell” and “Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade” by Mamoru Oshii . And I really mean kick-ass , but also with brains and something to say. You will not be disappointed .

  4. caruso_stalker217

    May 31st, 2009 at 3:23 am

    First time I cried as an adult was during BENJAMIN BUTTON. Luckily I was alone, but I may never live it down. I was considering going to see UP, but now I don’t know. I fear my emotions.

  5. Great review, Vern.

  6. I was about to not read the rest of your review, but then I remembered UP isn’t out in the UK until fucking OCTOBER!

    Fuck that shit, Vern. Just fuck it, alright? I’m reading your damn review.

  7. I cried while reading this review. Damn you Vern. I have a reputation to protect.

  8. Fantastic stuff Vern, as always. Now, the only way to regain your Fightclubness is to review Drag Me to Hell in an essay that also examines it as it relates to every other movie in the Sam Raimi ouvre. Please.
    I used to always be emotional during movies, it was always a problem for me, wanting to maintain the image of a brutal tough guy and what not. It doesn’t happen as much anymore, only on really special occasions. The last chunk of Return of the King with Frodo and Sam on the mountain usually gets the room really dusty at some point, pretty much every time I watch it.

  9. Don’t worry about the tears, Vern. At least it sounds like UP really does open on a heart-breaker. I cried during the first ten minutes of fucking Star Trek! I’m gonna be UP’s bitch.

  10. Like pheteesh, I’m here dabbing at my eyes, just during the review. I can *never* see a Pixar movie in the theater because when I cry in a movie, I CRY. That’s because I’m sitting there holding it all in going, “Don’t cry. Breathe. There… DON’T CRY–” And I lose it.

    Yes, I was a mess during the cowgirl doll sequence, too. Someone at Pixar sure knows which buttons to push.

  11. Man, if Vern wasn’t calling his badass outlaw status into question with this review, you can bet all our estrogen-high comments have really given any casual visitors reason to be skeptical.

    Sorry, dude. I feel just awful about this. :'(

  12. Seriously fuck this movie for being so awesome. The scene where he finally looks through her book brought out the inner twelve year old girl, I felt like my girlfriend the first time she watched “the Notebook”.
    Great review though Vern, nailed it right on the head. I literally do feel lucky to be living through the golden age of Pixar. The only letdown of the entire experience was the Toy Story 3 preview. The preview itself was exceptional, but I feel like we’ve been on such an amazing ride with Pixar producing original characters and stories the last few years that I want them to keep opening up new worlds for me, not returning to old (albeit amazing) worlds.

  13. My feelings about Pixar are a bit conflicted, though it’s really more to do with the larger perspective about animation in the west than them specifically. On the one hand, I do recognise how great the ideas and stories Pixar does are and how it’s making animation more than just some silly little kids thing, but on the other hand, I sorta resent it because Pixar and Dreamworks and the like are basically the only game in town and they all do generally the same sort of thing with All-Ages fantastical type things. Compared with anime, the scope is rather limited, and I’m specifically talking about BADASS cinema. Where’re the western animation equivalents of Ninja Scroll or Afro Samurai (japanese creator/studio/source material)? We can’t really consider stuff like Beowulf to count because it’s much rarer and always comes out with a PG-13 rating at most, so it’s all sort of restrained. The closest thing to Badass Pixar have made was The Incredibles, which managed the drama and heart really well while also providing lots of actiony superhero goodness too. John Carter of Mars might top that however, though I’m not clear on how much of that movie is animated because it’s meant to have some live-action element. Maybe it’s not really Pixar’s business to be Badass, but since they and the other family-aimed 3D animation companies are mostly the ones who get their projects put out, it does leave the other genres in animation a bit lacking this side of the world.

  14. Stu : I agree. I’d like to see more animated movies made outside the ” All Family” standard in America and Europe. I also prefer the hand drawn look of the classic cartoons to the all CG style , and I like the more adult oriented movies from Japan. Take a look at “Appleseed” from Masamune Shirow : I prefer the 1988 version , to the 2004 all CG movie. Both are pretty fucking badass , but I like more the 1988 classic animation style. Others badass cartoons from Japan ? Obviously AKIRA , but for me also “Venus Wars” , “Baoh” and “AD Police Files”.

  15. Last time I cried was Marley and Me a month ago.

  16. I don’t think it’s Pixar’s obligation to get into action and robots and shit. These are nerds in Hawaain shirts who worked at Disneyland as teenagers. Now they are part of the Disney family. I think it is respectable for them to be reviving the spirit of Walt Disney that was mostly dead in the Disney company for years.

    I mean yes, somebody should be doing other things with animation but Pixar happens to be great at making movies for people of all ages, so there’s nothing wrong with that. I think if Jim Henson had lived he would’ve been doing different things but I don’t necessarily want to see him making adult puppetry. These don’t seem to me like artists who are being constrained into a box, I think their passion and talent lies in these types of stories.

    If anything put that on Dreamworks’s shoulders. They’re the also rans in the Pixar business so they’re the ones that oughta find new territory that maybe they’d be the best at.

  17. I would like to point out that one of the things which makes “Up” really amazing is the rather unusual device of giving the full back story up front. There seems to be a trend these days to start the story cold and fill in back story with a flashback in the third act. People tend to think this will grab audience’s attention better because it sets up the mystery of “why are people doing this?”

    Up turns that on its head by telling you exactly who Carl Fredricken is right up front. This means that you have to trust the audience to care about a character, not a hook. And it pays off here, big time, because everyone after that works so organically. You already know what defined Carl’s life, and it saturates everything else that happens in the movie. That way, there’s no cheesy monologue at the end where he explains what this means to him. In fact, there are just a few small references to his back story spoken aloud any time in the movie. Just seeing him gently put his hand on a mailbox is enough to bring back the full weight of his life. Its so gracefully and confidently executed that its stunning — hard to believe, even while watching it.

    Also, for what its worth, it removes any necessity for a big speechmaking moment with Charles Muntz either. The parallels between his quest and Carl’s are obvious, and don’t need to be spelled out. But it would be so easy to underestimate an audience and just have them shout out their reasons for dong what they’re doing at the end. Its so standard in films, even good films, you almost don’t question it anymore. To resist the urge to spell it out… to resist making it explicit… thats some damn fine filmatism.

    And yeah, I cried.

  18. “If the first ten minutes of UP was Andrew “Dice” Clay it would say, “Jesse the Cowgirl montage in TOY STORY 2? I fucked it.””

    …aaaaaand I’m sold.

  19. We don’t really need Jim Henson to be alive to see how he’d handle adult puppetry.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfaPOcuwB6c

  20. Ah crap, forgot to ask. I read there’s a talking dog in this, Vern. Do they do it in a way that’s bearable and un-Dreamworksy?

  21. “… is to review Drag Me to Hell…”

    I’ve gotta agree with Brendon on this one. It was an excellent horror movie. I bet you’d like it.

  22. Stu, yes, they absolutely have a great way of doing it, it is a highlight.

    Brendon/Dan, yes, I will have a review of DRAG ME TO HELL soon. So everybody go see it so we can have an Oprah’s book club type discussion.

  23. I cried when I saw Terminator 2 and Ahnuld was dropped into the molten metal, and was all like I know why people cry. And I was all like meeee tooooooooo!

  24. I cried at “My Girl” when Culkin gets killed by bees. Also an episode of “My Pet Monster” when I was really little. Things that have “My” in the title make me cry. I think that last thing that made me cry was that episode of “Deadwood” where Al watches the priest go crazy.

  25. Man, I was so emotionally unprepared for when the old man finally looks at that back section of the scrap book.

  26. I went with a buddy and he thought it sucked, I stared at him like a dog shown a card trick. If you don’t like this what the hell do you want in a movie?

  27. He would have liked a sequel to The Incredibles more, I don’t think he gets it.

  28. i agree — i cried. opening hour was awesome. ending villain battle was a letdown though. they up-ended the conventions of animated stories so brilliantly that the shovel-load of convention at the end disappointed me. and that’s where my son started to get antsy, and bored.

  29. I can’t believe you all have fell for this and Pixar’s other failures!! You think these are good movies?! Renoir! Goddard!

    read the truth!
    http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=70797

    Now now don’t worry I’m not one of those ‘he disagreed with me so he sucks!’ guys (if so then I would never forgive vern for liking Charlie’s Angels 1 & 2, but since I’m not a close-minded ass I’m cool with it)

    That said I’m a Pixar fanboy and I enjoy intelligent debate and getting different takes on things and since I agree with vern a very large portion of the time and you guys read him as well I figured maybe it would be interesting to post this here, if not I will learn my lesson and not attempt this again.

    Yes the guy (from the link) is an uber film snob but still do any of you guys think he may have a point. That we merely overpraise Pixar because their competition (minus Studio Ghibli) is such shit and that they are no better than other mass-produced mainstream entertainment and that we are merely giving them a slide because it’s animation?

  30. oh yeah I did cry manly tears (that is to say I cried like an infant) twice in this in thing.

    Bastards got me last year with WALL-E too & with that Jessie’s song sequence.

  31. Thanks for the link. I don’t think he has a good point though. I do not think I or most people are giving the Pixar movies extra leeway because they’re animated and there are other animated movies that are shitty. He talks about parts of these movies that he admits are “achingly gorgeous,” “completely brilliant in every conceivable way,” “in the pantheon of cinematic greatness,” yet he still has to dismiss them as “for the masses” because he doesn’t like that they have action scenes and jokes in them. It seems like his problem is that these are mainstream movies that are amazing, and he can’t deny that they are amazing, and is ashamed to admit that he in fact loves a mainstream movie “for the masses.”

    How can you really say that people are cutting WALL-E extra slack for being animated, when everything they love about that movie could not have possible been done in any other medium? Isn’t it a nonsensical argument?

    He basically is saying yes, Pixar are incredible, but I will turn my nose up to them until they stop making Pixar movies. I think he also shows his true colors by claiming the shorts are more artistically successful than the features. Sure, they’re good, but I don’t think they hold up to his over-critical standars. He’s just trying to show off there.

    The one comment on the article put it best: “Grump.”

  32. The guy from the link sounds like a pixar fanboy from the 80ś who is upset that his favourite studio has achieved mainstream acceptance. He doesn´t provide any real evidence to back up his claims.

    And he is wrong to say that Pixar´s films are only compared to other animated films. Is there any other studio (animation or otherwise) that consistently values story and characters over the usual hollywood nonesense? I would say that Pixar is actually under rated because their films are animated.

    His questioning of the flying house shows that he missed the whole point of the movie. Each to his own I guess.

  33. keepcoolbutcare

    June 2nd, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Anyone else get a “Raising Arizona” vibe during certain parts of the opening flashback? Not only does Ellie look a bit like Holly Hunter (she also looks like Elastigirl, voiced by Holly Hunter) but the added whammy of the Fredricksen’s child bearing dilemma (I couldn’t not think of “her insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase”) flashed me back to RA in a big way.

    I was a bit bothered by the fact that adoption was never an option – I mean, I understand, it wouldn’t have fit in with the larger story, but still, it irks me that it was just glossed over. Those two would’ve made wonderful adopted ‘rents.

    My only queef with Pixar is of gender/racial lines – sure, some of the films features a strong female lead (Elastigirl, again. Blast ’em before they ask any questions EVE in Wall-E. Boo, but she only articulates one word and while being utterly adorable, she’s more of a prop/plot point) but they’ve never done a flat out female protagonist in a film yet, have they? Sure, Studio Ghibli got that shit locked down, and one can always turn to the old school Disney stuff, but it’s something that’s vexed me for a while now.
    Ditto major roles for African-Americans, Frozone being the lone exception that comes to mind.
    Do they as a studio have to “integrate” more (no, of course not), would it make the films better (depends on the story), is it a question that has any relevance in this day and age (maybe)?

    About Up in particular I kinda disagree a bit, in that I think after the first 10minutes the pic could only go down in terms of quality (like “Wall-E”); but hotdamn, what a ten minutes. Here’s something that got me thinking a bit though – all the previews, even at a 9:15pm on a Sunday night were for other “kids” films; ICE AGE 3d, The Princess and the Frog, some Bruckheimermayhem involving sassy, asskicking guinea pigs (W3 minus everything that made W3 heartbreaking). Now, my first thought I leaned over to whisper into my special lady friend’s ear was why don’t studios try to attach trailers to prints depending on the showtime – so goofy kids flick trailers for the early shows, more adult fare for the later shows, until it hit both of us…motherfuckers in out theater, at our showtime, were into that stuff, big time. But while I didn’t guffaw or even chuckle at those slapsticky, pratfalls aplenty previews, my favorite parts of UP (aside from the opening memory montage) were the slapsticky, pratfalls aplenty gags. Shoot, it could’ve been Kevin imitating Carl for 90minutes and I would’ve left just as happy.
    Where was I…oh, yeah, to anyone who has seen the other companies product and Pixar’s, is there a discernible difference in the gags? Like, do Pixar writers/animators write better pratfalls? Or is it just ‘cuz Pixar nails their fucking characters, makes you care for them, makes them utterly fucking believable, thus making de funny schtuff so much funnier? Before I got lost in circular stoner logic I was going to tie this into “Terminator Salvation” and why after the 1st two amazing action-set pieces the film just didn’t work – ‘cuz I couldn’t give a flying fuck fig about the characters anymore (particularly after Moonblood Good flashed a disgustingly perfect set of blazing ivory teeth – where the fuck that bitch gonna get tooth whitener in a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland? And she’s, what, 25…when the fuck did she have time to learn how to fly in the first place? And then more ridiculously plot holes started seeping into my porous brain, making the rest of the flick an utter bore).

  34. As I said the guy is a snob. Unless it’s an independently-produced foreign art house flick (even then if your name isn’t Renoir, Truffaut, Goddard, Einstein, Kubrick, etc.) then you shouldn’t even be allowed to touch a camera. (aka your average Criterion Collection customer)

    Oh well to each their own (though I must admit they do tend to get under my skin from time to time, I’d much rather put up with “Joe Six Pack” (who y’know enjoys movies) than put up it the snobs.

    That said I agree with the above poster who says Pixar is under rated. I work with primarily old people and they know me as the movie buff so they ask me what’s good that’s out (like they’ll be interested or agree but oh well) I told them Up would be right up their alley because I think it works alot better for older audiences than younger ones and they make no time in sticking their noses up and deeming it a mere kids film because it is animation. If it were live action then they’d be all over it.

    Hell if they weren’t mere cartoons I could probably have a discussion about the themes presented in Ratatouille & Incredibles but can’t because right when you suggest that they give you a stupid look because ‘it’s just a stupid cartoon for kids’. (heck they do that with mainstream movies as well, I remember trying to discuss themes brought up in the X-men trilogy to someone and they gave me look and pretty much told me ‘it’s just a stupid mainstream action picture’ (paraphrase of coarse)

    But yeah it disheartens me a little because I know most of my co-workers would dig Up but will not even give it a chance (or even take it seriously even if they do see it) because it’s ‘just a stupid kids movie’

    -they will go on and tell me how the latest celebrity-filled shitfest Dreamworks Animation is though

  35. I love (some) Pixar movies, but I don’t think it’s possible to call them underrated. “Up” has a Rotten Tomatoes scores of 98%. I remember when “Toy Story 1” came out the first review I read of it (probably in the Washington Post) called it the best children’s movie since “The Wizard of Oz.” They’re good, very good, but not underrated.

  36. this movie made me want to cry too, but I actually tried not to because of the 3D glasses!

  37. Yeah underrated wasn’t the right word (sorry about that)

    More me being a nerd feeling sad that ‘norms’ (as my friend calls them) don’t or wont appreciate cinema the same way we do. (thus why we are nerds and they are not)

    So yeah wrong use of words

    sorry about that guys

  38. Man, I had to wait to read this review until I finally got around to seeing the movie. Yeah, I cried too. Anyways, I just wanted to tell Stu that he should check out the trailer for this animated movie called 9 coming out in September. I don’t know if it’ll be any good, but that trailer is certainly badass.

  39. i just saw it… it was probably my favorite movie of the summer so far, with DRAG a close second.
    i think you guys are right in saying that pixar nails it’s characters, and that’s one of the things that sets their movies apart. i think you have to acknowledge their impeccable comic timing. watching UP, i felt like i was watching something that was close to perfection. the “squirrel” joke is an example of that. it’s unexpected but isn’t out of place. then they repeat it in an escalated setting that makes it even better, finally bringing it back at the climax. pete doctor said in an interview that when they were conceptualizing the plot, they went at it as if it was a silent film. i think it’s that craft that sets them apart.
    sorry, i’m ranting.

  40. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Vern.

  41. I finally got to see this before it left the theaters. I liked it, but not as much as WALL-E.

    Was it me or was the advertising for this movie really good? It didn’t tell you too much about the actual plot. I knew it was about a crotchety old guy, a balloon house, and the kid, but the dog, bird, and villain were welcome surprises.

    You ever have a friend who gets reallly bothered by little plot holes and story inconsistencies? I know a guy like that. He started to hate THE LAST CRUSADE because of the French knight at the end who, despite being trapped in the grail cavern for 1,000 years, speaks perfect modern English. My usual response to him is “MOVIE MAGIC!” because there’s just a certain amount of silliness you’re going to have to accept if you’re going to enjoy movies.

    But I was actually turning into that guy during UP. There were a few things that really took me out of the story; I wish they didn’t, and I don’t usually care about this stuff, but this time I did.

    –I can buy the floating house. But how does it ever catch up to the propelled zeppelin?
    –I don’t mind the talking dogs. But how does a man out in the middle of nowhere build these amazing collars, having been out of civilization for 70 years and presumably with no knowledge of anything past vacuum tubes?
    –Speaking of which, how old is Munz anyway? If we’re charitable and say that Carl saw the opening newsreel when he was about 8, and Munz was 20, that still makes Munz an absolute minimum of 90 years old. And while I know of a few sprightly old men, even into their 80s, by 90 things are really slowing down. The guy should basically be in a wheelchair (or much more likely dead). Carl should’ve kicked his ass no problem.

    And even re-reading what I just wrote it seems trivial, but damn it, it got on my nerves enough to turn this movie from a near-masterpiece to just “really good.”

    Three points I teared up:
    –once during the end of the opening short (guess I’m a sucker for these “kind friendship” stories)
    –once during the Ellie montage, like everyone else did
    –once during the scene near the end where the house slips under the clouds as Carl makes peace with it being gone from his life

    (Nice callback to your Ford Fairlane review btw)

  42. Just saw this yesterday. I was kind of bored. Sorry.

    I did laugh pretty hard when the kid squeeked across the zeppelin’s windshield for 15 seconds. And the flashback sequence combined with the scrapbook at the end was very touching. And Carl giving the kid the merit badge. There was also one really neat 10-second scene when the house first takes off – there’s some random little girl playing in her room and suddenly the house passes by her window and it turns her entire room into a kaliedescope as the sunlight passes through the balloons. Beautiful.

    But for me the movie really dragged once they got to Venezuela. The talking dog collar bit was completely ruined by the previews and commercials (yeah yeah”squirrel!” funny stuff but when you’ve seen it 20 times already….). I didn’t really give a crap about the bird, or the entire subplot with the Alpha dog, or the old explorer dude (who must have been 100 years old by then, wtf?).

    Perhaps part of the problem was that I had just watched THE INCREDIBLES (my new g/f has a kid, whatcha gonna do) and I thought it was quite a bit better on most accounts. Blasphemy, I know.

  43. Up rocks! All of Pixar’s movies and short films rock! Everything Pixar-related rocks! I’ll never understand why Pixar is so freakin’ underrated, though; I mean, Pixar’s never failed ONCE, and yet they don’t get the recognition they deserve. And plus, there are a lot of retarded people (such as Armond White) who diss them. For what? For making the best movies ever?! Come on! Pixar kicks everyone’s @$$! You’ve got to be the dumbest retard on earth to talk trash about Pixar. Back on topic, Up is one of Pixar’s best movies – it made me laugh, cry, and it teaches a wonderful and possitve message. Rock on, Pixar! F U, Pixar-haters!

  44. Armond White can’t control himself. If it seems like everybody is gonna like something, he will hate it. I guarantee you if Pixar ever makes an obviously terrible one he’ll be ready to declare it their first masterpiece.

  45. I saw on Jim Emerson’s Scanners blog on the Ebert site that he listed Armond White as one of the critics of PRECIOUS. Armond White listed several pro African American pictures that were better than PRECIOUS. One of them was NORBIT. Armond White loses (PRECIOUS still sounds terrible.)

  46. God damn, I didn’t think it would be THAT good. Dear lord this movi is amazing.

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  48. dear mr. t. w. review, your remarks and your candor have impressed me greatly. i feel compelled to click on your link in order to be connected to your website, where i hope to hear more of your wonderful insights!

  49. I love all these spambots who are so busy researching shit that they don’t have time to leave more than a vague, generic comment. Are they in grad school? Is that why they’re so harried? It must be hard juggling school, work, girlfriends, and the demands of their sisters’ archery hobby.

  50. I’m really jealous at all these great spambots here. My blog only gets links to online casinos. :P

  51. Oh while we’ve got comments about “Up”:

    “I said, and still believe, that WALL-E is a masterpiece. Its one flaw is that the first section is such a perfect, jawdropping and completely unique masterwork of filmatic imagery that the rest of the movie, by being merely superb, is kind of a letdown to some people. This one does not have that minor structural problem.”

    Yes, Vern, IMO it does have that problem. (Actually I DON’T think “Wall-E” has that problem, but “Up” does.) The first twenty minutes of “Up” are so good that everything after that is an anticlimax. (Also known as the “Psycho conundrum”, or “How to make the first part of your movie so fuckin’ awesome that the rest of it can’t quite live up to expectations.”)

    Don’t get me wrong, I think “Up” is very good (although by Pixar’s standards it’s actually one of my least favorite – I think “Ratatouille” and “Toy Story 3” are far better than “Up” is). But it isn’t in the same league as “Wall-E” in my opinion.

    Talking of “Wall-E”, does anybody else have the soundtrack? Undoubtedly Thomas Newman’s best work ever (and this is the guy who played the piano during the score for “American Beauty”, in case there’s any doubt about how fucking good he is), the track titled “2815 a.d.” just chills my marrow.

  52. Addenum: Yes, I don’t care if you now think it’s cool to hate “American Beauty”. The piano solos were FUCKING FANTASTIC, to the point where they were “remixed” into about half a dozen equally pointless “dance” tracks by talentless techno-freak “DJ”s who can’t play fucking instruments.

    (Damn, sometimes I forget I’m no longer commenting on AICN.)

  53. Ok this is gonna sound weird, but I just saw UP and kept thinking about PREDATORS for the entire last half. – 1) Jungle/cave/waterfalls/rocks setting 2) grumpy main character don’t need nobody dragging him down till the end when he realizes he does 3) crazy Kurtz-like character living in the jungle for years by himself 4) invites heroes to his ship for dinner 5)then turns on them and reveals he’s killed a bunch of passers-by over the years. 6) wild pack of dog minions 7) one of the dogs/Predators turns out to be a nice guy and helps the heroes.

    And yes, I got misty-eyed during the beginning montage too. It’s so perfect, so powerful, that I was really scratching my head at how stupid the last half of the movie is. I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, I just mean a movie with such a beautiful, sensitive opening sequence shouldn’t end with Dreamworks-esque visual shout-outs to “Four Dogs Playing Poker” and have dogs flying planes with machine guns attached to them. And have a 120 year old villain who dies the same way every Disney villain ever has died. The last 20 minutes of this movie are so outrageous, so over-the-top, I was positively SHOCKED it didn’t turn out to be a dream. And I’m even more shocked nobody really mentions any of this in reviews, or even the whole villain angle for that matter. It’s like Michael Bay took over the movie 3/4 of the way through.

  54. neal – I agree with you, but I don’t think the villain ruined the movie or anything. I just think that it lost its way a bit (well, a lot). It’s still better than 99% of anything that hasn’t come out of Pixar Animation Studios.

    You know what, that would be my dream job, working for them – and I don’t really care in what capacity, I’d just love knowing that I was part of what they do. Think about the movies they’ve made and what it says about their whole culture. Can you imagine the guy who first came up with the basic idea of “Wall-E” taking that idea to a Disney exec?

    GUY: “So you know what, I got this idea for a film, it’s a modern take on the whole ‘fall of man’ mythology, only paradise is a prison, and Satan is the hero who falls in love with Eve…”
    EXEC: “Oh boy, the soccer moms are gonna hate that. How do you spin it?”
    GUY: “Well, for one thing it takes place in the future, and it stars a robot.”
    EXEC: “A talking robot movie, that’s more like it! Can he have a wacky sidekick as well? Robin Williams hasn’t made a hit in a while, we can probably get him cheap.”
    GUY: “Actually there’s almost no dialogue in the movie for the first forty minutes or so.”
    EXEC: “No dialogue? Hey look, the kids like robots, but how do we get cameos by Tina Fey and Arnie in there if they don’t get to speak? What does the robot do then?”
    GUY: “Well he runs around collecting garbage and piling it into squares.”
    EXEC: “You gotta be fucking kidding me, a garbage collector? What kind of hero is that? Is he a prince in disguise?”
    GUY: “No. He does have a sidekick though, there’s this cockroach…”
    EXEC: “Ok stow it, this ain’t going anywhere. We can probably fix it in the second draft though. What about the villain? What ethnic minority is he?”
    GUY: “There’s no villain.”
    EXEC: “No villain?”
    GUY: “Well, there’s this ship’s computer, but it’s not really a villain, it’s just misguided. It just wants to keep everyone safe, even if it means they don’t have proper lives because of it.”
    EXEC: “Keep everyone safe? What kind of lameass idea is that? Does it at least have a moustache?”
    GUY: “It’s a computer. They don’t have moustaches.”
    EXEC: “Well can we at least get a swordfight in there for the trailer?”

    …And you can imagine the rest. Point is, the culture there must be so great to even get a film like Wall-E greenlit, let alone make it (and make it as great as it is). It’s mind-boggling really. How do you even DESCRIBE a film like Wall-E? People think in dialogue, or at least sentences, usually, yet there aren’t any…!

  55. I’m pretty sure “There’s a cute robot who falls in love” would get greenlit anywhere. Having not seen it, however, I can only assume the execution of the premise was more esoteric and less fartcentric than if it has been made at, say, Dreamworks.

  56. Majestyk – given that Wall-E easily makes it into the top four or five films I’ve ever seen, ever, I would say that the execution of the premise is pretty damn good. To misquote Vern’s “Robots” review (for the second time this thread), no farting robots in this one.

  57. Oh man, they missed a golden opportunity on that one. Robots don’t have buttholes so how can they fart? That’s why it’s so funny!

  58. Majestyk – the worst thing is, I can totally see my imaginary Disney exec saying exactly that. I bet someone did when they made “Robots” as well.

  59. I don’t buy the imaginary Disney exec. The same guy who directed Toy Story runs both Pixar and Disney. I don’t think he would stand for this exec and would tell him his execking was no longer needed at Disney.

  60. The last act of Up made perfect sense to me. In fact, I found it to be incredibly moving and even sublime. And, every last bit of act three is clearly set up thematically and logically during the first 10 minutes of the movie.

    See, it’s all about internal and external conflicts. Carl’s internal conflict is that he feels like he’s never really lived. His external conflict is that he’s trapped in South America, trying to commit suicide until Russell shows up. And curmudgeonly as he is, he can’t off himself with the kid around. Russell represents his feeling of unachieved dreams, that youthful spirit. He is what Carl used to be, but even as a child he is loaded down with the baggage of his parents (and possibly Aspbergs?) and his heavy frame just as Carl is weighed down by his house.*

    To put it in screenwriting 101 terminology, Carl thinks he wants to die, but really he needs a reason to live.

    Anyway, this is an ADVENTURE film first and foremost. Carl feels as though he has never lived. And until he gets to the moment where he sees the “My Adventure Book” still in his house, he cannot move forward because he doesn’t realize that he HAS had an adventure. (And by the by, this scene is even better than the opening in my mind. I bawl every single time this bit hits the screen. Like, weeping at a funeral level.) So, once Carl realizes that his life is not meaningless but instead overflowing with meaning he is free to tackle his external dilemma.

    At this point, the external dilemma splits in two. On the one hand, you have Russell, representing the new promise of Carl’s renewed vigor. And on the other hand, you have the bird, which represents the dreams themselves. If you’ll remember, the bird was the original call to adventure of both Carl and Charles Muntz.

    So, since Carl is able to realize that he lived a dream come true, (and honestly, I would be more than happy to have had that kind of life, that kind of real intimacy) he is able to live out his dreams of adventure that act one promises. Except now, instead of just “adventure” as some abstract escapist concept it is something grounded in maturity and emotional sincerity.

    *Btw, if you haven’t read it, go buy a copy of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. If you don’t like it, I will personally send you a check refunding your purchase price. Dead serious.

  61. Btw, Paul, that analysis of Wall-E is mind bogglingly awesome.

    Also, Up is one of my 10 favorite films of all time.

  62. Vern – maybe not now, but watch “Aladdin” and tell me that it wasn’t produced by the kind of exec I’ve suggested here. Literally every cliche I’ve described is on display in that film: you’ve got the “street rat” who is actually a prince (but who realises at the end that he has to be true to himself, AFTER bedding the princess of course); the fact that the three central “good” characters are all white Americans while every minor character is a grotesque and every villain has a “foreign” accent; Robin Williams as the “wacky” comic relief. Heck, it even has a loyal animal sidekick (Abu) and a moustache (on Jafar). Its politics are “conservative” boiled down to its most insultingly simplified form; the princess is effectively a piece of meat that the three main male characters fight over, while its view of the Middle East would be more apt to describe the Middle Ages.

    And if that sounds like I’m making too much of an example of one film (and I gotta admit to a sneaking fondness for Aladdin despite the fact that it’s offensively and patronisingly racist and misogynist – in a kids’ film!) then take a look at some of the “classics” and see how well they fit. “The Lion King”? “The Jungle Book”? As good as these films are, they’re pure formula. Trying to imagine the same people who made these films make something like “Wall-E”, or even “Ratatouille”, is like trying to imagine Jordan (Katie Price, not the basketball player) writing “War and Peace”. I just can’t see it happening.

  63. Hunter D – thanks very much for the compliment. And I won’t quibble with you on “Up”. I’ve said it before, arguing over which Pixar film is the “Best” is like comparing a Hattori Hanzo sword to another sword also made by Hattori Hanzo.

  64. Paul: While I agree that Disney movies like ALADDIN or even THE JUNGLE BOOK can be considered as “pure formula”, you gotta cut them some slack for either creating these formulas or being made in a time when these formulas weren’t such cliches.
    It’s pretty much the HALLOWEEN syndrome. You can accuse Carpenter’s classic of being all formula too, but only because after it came out, everbody started to do it that way.

    (Also I’m not sure if I would consider Aladdin and Jasmine really as “white Americans”.)

  65. Paul – if it’s pointless to argue over which Pixar film is the best, can I confide in you my deep dark secret that my favorite Pixar movie is Cars?

  66. Oh and Paul, you realize your description of Aladdin doubles as a description for Prince of Persia, the other Middle Eastern Disney movie that LITERALLY has a white American in the lead and conservative politics. I really want to meet the exec who thought “let’s have a lovable Tea Party sidekick!”

  67. CJ – as compared to every other character in the film? They speak in American accents, they have lighter skin than nearly anybody else. Jasmine’s father could be a double for Santa Claus. The only thing exotic about them is the length of their hair and their clothing, and even that’s pretty subtle when compared to some of the grotesques surrounding them. Take Jasmine’s attire out of the middle-eastern setting, and it could easily fit as summer garb in a modern Western shopping centre.

    I’m not necessarily accusing them of being BAD movies. (“The Lion King”, certainly, is anything but.) I’m just saying that there’s a process that goes into manufacturing these films, and it’s as obvious as the one Vern points out in films like “Cursed”. When it works, it works well, but it’ll never produce anything like a “Wall-E” or an “Up”.

    Neal – Can’t comment on “Prince of Persia” because I haven’t played any of the videogames since the Amiga version back in the late eighties or early nineties (can’t remember the date or be bothered to look it up) and I haven’t seen the movie. I’ll take your word for it because this is one of those movies I have zero interest in spending any time or money on – nobody’s said a thing about it to convince me it’s worth seeing. Actually, if I’d heard it was really terrible, that might actually motivate me more (because I can laugh at a terrible movie and enjoy a good one, but I hate mediocrity). From the little I’d read about it though, the prevailing opinion seemed to be “Not awful, but not worth going to see”.

  68. On the subject of race in movies though, I’d like to shake the hand of the fellow who thought: “We have three lions, two good, one bad, and both of the good ones are seen as adults at the same time as the bad one (if not each other). How do we differentiate them? Oh, I know, we’ll give the bad one a darker coat and an English accent, while the good ones are light-coated Americans!” Bizarrely this is one case where blatant xenophobia worked a treat – Jeremy Irons’ snarling drawl as “Scar” makes for one of the best Disney villains ever IMO.

  69. On a similar note, I read Tilda Swinton refused to dye her hair black as the evil Queen (or whatever she was) in The Chronicles of Narnia since she felt that was subconscious racism. Good for her, even though I think it would have gone over most people’s heads (including me).

  70. I can’t really comment on the voices of Aladdin and Jasmine, because I only know it in its German dubbing, where nobody has an accent. (Happens pretty often here. I think it’s because foreign accents are very difficult to fake for Germans, so they avoid it usually. [Which is okay imo.]
    Also Jafar’s skin is lighter than Aladdin’s.

  71. Jafar: http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.disneyvillains.net/images/Jafar.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.disneyvillains.net/Jafar.php&usg=__7KZzZw4CdYh8_qRlrqTaiYwgY8U=&h=168&w=170&sz=10&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=AZ6sPHEk4kw_yM:&tbnh=134&tbnw=136&prev=/images%3Fq%3DJafar%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26newwindow%3D1%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DN%26biw%3D1728%26bih%3D917%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=641&vpy=157&dur=1718&hovh=134&hovw=136&tx=107&ty=95&ei=MxAlTfy3N42zhAfSqJ24Dg&oei=MxAlTfy3N42zhAfSqJ24Dg&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=54&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0 (apologies for extremely long link).

    Aladdin: http://www.myspaceantics.com/image-myspace-graphic/glitter-graphics/aladdin-jasmine-genie.gif.html

    Note Jafar’s “negroid” lips and nose, his arched eyebrows, his classic pimp-tache, and his purple eyeshadow. As compared to Aladdin’s “caucasianized” face with straight eyebrows and nose and perfect teeth. I don’t think it’s any less subtly racist if you give the villain (and pretty much everyone else in the film except Aladdin, Jasmine and her father) features that “look” negro but don’t actually give them blackface!

    As regards the accents though, in the cut of the film we got over here in Britain (can’t speak for elsewhere) Jafar had a classical English drawl, whereas Aladdin spoke with what I believe is generally referred to as a midwestern accent. It’s very, very clear that the guy playing Jafar is trying to sound “foreign”.

    Mind you, I’d be okay with this if EVERYONE spoke American, or if they kept the “Eastern” accents for all the characters. But that’s not what happens. Seems to me that there’s an implicit assumption somewhere that unless the hero and heroine are racially “familiar”, the story won’t sell in the ‘States. Not sure if that’s true or not, but it’s pretty sad.

  72. This critique is also valid for The Passion of the Christ. Notice how Jesus, Mary, Mother Mary, and Thomas (it is Thomas who helps Jesus carry his cross, isn’t it?) are all played by caucasian-ish actors with distinctly NON-Jewish features while all Jews are hook-nosed, fat-lipped, heavy-eyebrowed concoctions that look like something out of a skinhead pamphlet.

    In the case of The Passion it was clearly, specifically racist. In fact, the version of the Passion Play that that movie uses for specific reference is one that the Catholic Church has distanced itself from because it focuses primarily on blaming the Jews while white washing the Romans. I mean, if you wanted to do that version, you could do that version very, very well. (And, lets be honest, The Passion of the Christ is surely Gibson’s Magnum Opus.) But by doing that version AND casting it with such obvious and specific racial cues, you create one and only one interpretation.

    Meanwhile, you have the Disney films. I don’t know that it’s fair to call Jafar or Scar, or pretty much any of the Disney villains “racist.” Yes, they have a tendency to create villains with darker fur, or hook noses, or non-European features, to say nothing of the shucking and jiving of Baloo, Sebastian the Crab, Timon and Pumba (always a kind of N***** Jim type archetype). Undoubtedly, the films are racist, sexist, xenophobic, and promote all kinds of issues in women, but to blame the FILMS is to miss the point.

    If you ask your neighbor, or your cousin, or your boss to do some free association with the word, “Disney” they will very shortly come up with the words “Family”, “Wholesome” and “Classic.” The vast, vast majority of people see Disney as perfectly innocuous, not in spite of the overt offenses of the films, but precisely because of them. They create a very strong dichotomy of “us” and “them” and inculcates youths in the “proper” type of society. Disney IS wholesome to our society, and our society is, and has always been, openly racist, sexist, and antisemitic.

    Look, I’m totally partial here. I once punched a kid so hard that he had a seizure because he called me a K***. Later, I was almost murdered by Nazi Skinheads, twice, during 6 months around my 18th birthday. My entire life, I’ve felt totally alienated from all of culture from the day after Thanksgiving until NYE. (My parents didn’t do Hanukkah, or birthdays, or, you know, parenting). I’m a bit hyper-aware of this stuff. But think of it like this: shows like Cops serve the same cultural function, they show a the “bad” people, who are poor, white trash, have bad teeth, bad hygiene, ect. And we are encouraged to laugh at them. By laughing at them, we establish a social hierarchy wherein we are included in the “us” and the people on the show, who are universally shown to be guilty, are relegated to the “them.” And through this hierarchy were are taught what it is to be an “acceptable” member of society.

    But you, that’s just my opinion, man.

  73. Hunter D – I thought you couldn’t get much more depressing than my comment that films sold to Americans effectively had to have Americans in the title role, no matter where those films were based. But I think you trumped it with “Disney IS wholesome to our society, and our society is, and has always been, openly racist, sexist, and antisemitic.” Don’t think that’s the case in Britain, although we have our share of bigots on both sides of the political spectrum.

    I think that this kind of film reflects what’s acceptable in society. Which in many ways is something of a sad reflection on that society when it comes to a film like “Aladdin”.

    And are you encouraged to laugh at people on “Cops”? I’ve never seen it.

  74. I can’t speak on the nationality since I haven’t seen any statistics, but in the semi-related field of race on film Americans are more than willing to have a minority lead, at least in action and comedies. We have plenty of black, mutli-racial, ect movie stars. The issue is actually that European audiences are less likely to line up for a film with a non-white lead. And, with international box office becoming more and more central to the business (Tron Legacy, The Tourist and Narnia 3 were all designed to play more in Europe than in the states), this could lead to a less diverse talent pool during this new decade.

  75. Hunter D – so now it’s our fault, is it? Oh thanks!

    I would point out that films starring Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Will Smith are frequently top sellers over here; and Martin Lawrence films often make the top three best-sellers also. Although given some of what those four actors have appeared in, that may not be a good thing. “Kiss the Girls”, “Man on Fire”, “Bagger Vance” or “Black Knight” anyone? All big sellers over here in Europe.

    A lot of Europeans associate Disney with slave labour, American homogeny, and those fucking creepy-eyed puppet-things they keep showing in the adverts that feature the World Boat Ride, or whatever the hell it’s called. (Seriously, what’s WITH those fucking puppets? Why do they all have the same face, when they’re supposed to represent all the different peoples of the world? And why do they keep blinking? All of them, in unison? What… the… fuck?!)

  76. Paul: “films sold to Americans effectively had to have Americans in the title role, no matter where those films were based.”

    How do you come to that conclusion? Let’s look at the highest grossing movies of all time.

    Avatar – title character is CGI version of Australian actor
    Titanic – the boat is American but I don’t think Kate Winslet is
    Return of the King – okay, Viggo is American, although a worldly man
    Pirates of the Caribbean 2 – the fan-favorite pirate is the only one that’s American
    Toy Story 3 – mostly American cartoons
    Alice in Wonderland – Alice is Australian I believe
    Dark Knight – Dark Knight is British
    Harry Potter and the magical business – Spielberg not allowed to make movie because he wanted an American Harry Potter
    Pirates of the Caribbean 3: same as part 2
    then there’s another two Harry Potters, another Lord of the Rings…

    I’m sending this one to Mythbusters.

  77. I thought he meant the characters, not the actors.

  78. Yeah Vern, but if what if the leads weren’t pretty white English speakers, but were more diverse and multi-ethnic?

  79. I don’t know, Paul. You can interpret the design of Jafar as racist, but to be honest, I just think it plays on the old movie (and especially cartoon) tradition, that the heroes must look good and the villains ugly (or at least must wear a white or a black hat to show everybody who is who).
    They tried to revert this tradition (more or less successful) with SHREK, where the hero was the supposedly ugly monster, with the broad scottish accent, who even stayed grumpy and un-royal after he found his true love and real friends.
    (I wanted to say something else at this point, but then I got distracted and forgot about it. If I remember it, I will post it later.)

  80. “The villain [must] be ugly.”

    Exactly. The vast majority of people will never consider further than that an “ugly” villain is old hat visual storytelling. Most will never consider that they’ve just taught their five year old that African, Jewish, or rotund features are “ugly” and “bad.”

    And again, I’m not saying that the movies themselves are racist or designed to make your children racist. I’m saying that our culture has a long history of racism that boils to the surface in film and television. Seemingly random images quickly form patterns here.

    For example, yes, you see a lot of black actresses and super models today. But how many of them have the hair they were born with? How many of them have a traditionally African nose? It is perhaps unpopular to discuss this because it creates a hierarchy of “authentic” Blackness…as determined by this white boy who’s primary experience with black culture is rap, old jazz, Spike Lee, and a couple of short zebrahead flings during college. But all the same, how many black models are dark skinned black women with natural hair and traditionally African noses? Not very many. I can’t think of any.

    Or, on a more sinister note, look at Jafar. Maybe I’m crazy, but he looks a lot like Nosferatu to me. Makes sense, it’s a good cue to pull, Nosferatu is still one of the most famous horror movie images ever. It’s deeply embedded in our culture.

    Except, look at this 1922 poster for the film: http://www.silentsaregolden.com/featurefolder4/Nosferatuposter1.html . Nosferatu is shown as a horrible ratlike creature with a hook nose, heavy eyebrows, fat lips…definitely not Germanic features. He is first and foremost a FOREIGNER.

    Now look at this second poster: http://www.impawards.com/1922/nosferatu.html . Now this is not an original poster, it’s a reprint. But the image design is retained from 1922. The features of Nosferatu’s face are more pronounced here, more obvious. More garish and more hideous too. And don’t they kind of look just like…

    well, this? http://jspivey.wikispaces.com/file/detail/Nazi_Propaganda_poster.jpg

    See how all the pieces of Nosferatu’s face fit into all of the shapes of the evil Jews and Jew sympathizers in this poster? Note the oversized foreheads of the bottom center and bottom right “Jews” the long, hooked nose of the bottom left Jew, the manic eye of the upper right Jew and the sunken cheeks of the top center Jew. Combine them, and you have the image on the Nosferatu poster.

    And that reprint? It’s an American poster. The movie is very popular here too.

  81. Hunter – have you seen The Princess and the Frog? Just curious on yours (and anybody else’s) thoughts on it. Yeah, I know it’s not kosher to talk about animated movies with the word Princess in the title here, but damnit, this was excellent (much better than Up at least). Plus Seagal sidekick Keith David is awesome as the bad guy (named Shadow Man, just like Seagal). And he sings too!

    I think the hype over the race of the characters kinda dominated conversation about the film, but I like how the race and location and period are integral to the plot, but it’s still universal and relatable.

    I know this is a weird comparison to make, but it really reminded me alot of Candyman – a genre film with fairytale-like overtones that had a lot to say about class and race, with a strong emphasis on history and location (Chicago and New Orleans). I think they’d actually make a good double feature.

  82. I liked PRINCESS & THE FROG. The trailer had me worried, that it was just a lame re-hash of early 90’s Disney, but it was very enjoyable, although not without flaws. It got lots of extra points in my book though, for the cool execution of the living shadow gimmick, being a Disney movie that shows a cold blooded murder and for the character of Charlotte. I can’t remember any other movie, animated or not, that had such a character, who is a spoiled, rich brat, but also has a heart and would never do anything to hurt her friends.

  83. What about CLUELESS?

    Er, or so I’ve heard. I mean, I read a review of it once. So I could make fun of it. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  84. The spoiled rich brat with a heart of gold thing is fairly common (Billy Madison, Iron Man, i’m guessing Arthur, and as Mr. M. says, Clueless), but I agree with CJ that her inclusion really was unexpected and refreshing. Mostly
    because she’s a supporting character with no real arc, not the lead who “learns an important life lesson”. And also because she’s actually a good person (she doesn’t betray the main character like you think she would)

    And not to get too much into spoilers, but I was in complete disbelief at the murder CJ refers to. I’m so used to Disney characters dying via accident or falls from high places that I really couldn’t believe the dead character was dead. If i was like 8 and a girl I’d be traumatized.

  85. Yeah, but Charlotte was different than Tony Stark or everybody in CLUELESS. I mean, Stark needed to be taken hostage and tortured to become likeable and the Clueless kids weren’t supposed to be unsympathetic from the beginning. They were just richer than everybody in the audience.
    But you can’t tell me that in the one scene by the end of act 1, when Tiana trips over the table at the party, you didn’t expect Charlotte to yell at her for ruining it and maybe even her chance to meet and marry a nice prince!

  86. CJ- that’s exactly the scene I was thinking of – it’s a great example of a character’s actions being surprising without being inconsistent or untrue to the character. I wish Hollywood would take note.

  87. Vern – never saw your response to my post, and I wasn’t necessarily referring to American ACTORS. (Heck, if I did, it would be blatantly wrong.) I do, however, think that most of the leads in big-budget Hollywood films have to be recognizably Anglo-centric (as opposed to, say, Middle-Eastern or African), although there’s also a large market for “acceptable” minority actors like Will Smith (which basically counts as the same thing). My point is that in mainstream entertainment there’s acceptable, and there’s foreign, and crossovers between the two are pretty damn rare. And when it does happen, the “foreign”-ness of the lead is often the point.

    Although it did occur to me that you could discredit my point by looking at Arnold S’s entire career…

  88. It is virtually impossible for anyone not to have an emotional reaction to this movie. And for those who don’t, there’s that article about the little girl to finish the job. As for me, the scene with the scrapbook did the job. My mother was particularly affected because the guy looks enough like my grandfather to get that particular ball rolling. He even had the same glasses.

  89. Loved reading this review again Vern. Just got a little misty watching Inside Out. Would love to see your review on the non-WWE version.

  90. The Original... Paul

    November 15th, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    INSIDE OUT has been one of the highlights of the year for me too. I don’t think it’s quite on the same level as WALL-E because of its more conventional structure and a couple of “on-the-nose” moments. But damn, did it drag me in. Just a really, really good film, and one of Pixar’s best for some time.

  91. I agree. I prefer Up and Wall-E, but I still think it’s one of the better Pixar movies, which is a great list to be on.

    I was really impressed by how it handled sadness and depression. More formulaic than Up for sure, but a far cry from Cars 2.

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