• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Up

TITLE: Up

YEAR: 2009

GENRE: Animation and Family

Pixar Studios has been the standard for CGI-oriented animated films for fifteen years, and die-hard fans will have some fun debating which Pixar film is their best work. Some will go back to the toy box beginnings and name Toy Story, others will name the ocean epic Finding Nemo, and others will go in the closet and name Monsters Inc. All of these are quality productions and even Pixar’s worst efforts would be considered fantastic by other studios, but this critic would not pick any of those as their magnum opus. This critic’s favorite would be its most mature story. Up is Pixar’s masterpiece and should be required viewing by all animation fans.

Carl Fredericksen (voiced by Ed Asner) is a 78-year-old man who is dealing with the untimely death of his lifelong love Ellie (Elie Doctor), the emptiness in his life due to her demise, and a shopping mall being built immediately around his lifelong home. Carl is forced by the developer of the shopping complex to move into a retirement home, and the night before the move Carl does something desperate: hook thousands and thousands of helium-filled balloons to his house and fly to Paradise Falls, a group of waterfalls in South America that him and Ellie had dreamed of visiting since childhood. Much to Carl’s dismay, a Wilderness Scout stowaway named Russell (Jordan Nagel) was on the porch during his launch and is now forced to keep the kid safe during his adventure. The house lands close to ParadiseFalls and Carl meets childhood hero Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), an adventurer on the eternal hunt for a giant bird. When the mysterious bird starts following Carl around and a not-so-bright Labrador Retriever named Dug (Bob Peterson) adopts Carl as his new master, the distraught old man starts feeling agitated and just wants to be left alone. However an adventure bigger than Carl’s dreams is about to begin whether Carl likes it or not.

Up is the perfect combination of an animated film that will be enjoyed by children and a great story that will speak to the more adult viewers. The first twelve minutes are Academy Award-worthy on their own and step through the meeting, marriage, and aging of Ellie and Carl, and the telling of their lives in a short few minutes is epic in its execution and leaves the watcher silent in their sadness. This also sets up the character of Carl, which many fans have mistaken as a grumpy old curmudgeon when in reality he is lost in his life without his inspiration and life partner and he really does not know how to move forward after Ellie’s passing. Russell, a young boy without an active father figure who is desperate for any male attention, becomes his new “adventure” in life and Carl slowly realizes this throughout Up including when Russell says the incredibly mature line “I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most” when lamenting about his absent father. Carl also finds a simple caption under a picture of him and Ellie sipping tea in their favorite chairs which is a definitive moment in Up. That is not to say that Up is just a drama about the usefulness of the aged as there are a lot of funny moments including Dug and a group of Muntz’ dogs dish up numerous comedic elements especially when they believe that they see a squirrel. A fight scene between Carl and Muntz is also entertaining and well done especially when Carl uses his false teeth as a projectile after Muntz says “Any last words? Come on, spit it out!” Asner has won seven Emmy Awards, but this may be his crowning achievement in his acting career as he is Carl Fredricksen and balances his sorrow for the passing of his beloved, anger for the development and situations around him, and obligatory compassion for Russell in a way that makes the character real. Plummer also does an excellent job as the antagonist and is genuinely chilling in his portrayal as the aged explorer who is obsessed with finding this legendary bird and clearing his name to the masses.

I could go on and on about the wonder of this film but I will cut this short. Up is a fantastic adventure that has multi-layered storylines that makes this one of the very best written animated films ever made. Make sure to stick around long enough to watch the ending credits as Carl’s new scrapbook attests to the fact that the morals of the story are well learned. Up is a reminder that the simple aspects of life are really the most exciting, and those plain Jane events are the ones to most cherish. Our society tends to dismiss the aged, and Up also informs us that the experience of senior citizens should be cherished rather than discarded. Highly recommended.

* * * * *

–Mark

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One Response

  1. Thank you for posting this. I enjoyed reading today’s article very much. Spending time with my family is something I do often. I try to keep up with today’s trends so we have more in common. Thanks again for sharing your article.

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