Sunday, 21 February 2010

Triumph of the Geeks

 Up Pixar

In this movie, now out on DVD, Pixar bring together three outsiders.

The movie opens with the Carl Fredrikson, a boy of eight who meets the girl who will become the love of his life. Ellie and Carl are made for each, Carl is shy and nervous while Ellie is exuberant and extrovert. She recognises in Carl her soul mate and they marry and grow old together. And so the story begins.

Ellie dies and Carl is left a lonely, bitter widower who regrets that he and Ellie never took a trip they’d long dreamed of, to Venezuela in the footsteps of their hero Charles Muntz. Now Carl is besieged on all sides by urban development but refuses to leave the house that contains all the memories of his earlier life. After an unfortunate accident Carl decides to go, and take his memories with him. He fastens thousands of helium balloons to the house and makes a break for it just as the men from the retirement home are about to take him.

Unbeknownst to Carl, a plump, accident prone eight year old boy called Russell has stowed away on the house. Despite Carl’s wishes they both get swept away to Venezuela. Now that he’s got there it is Carl’s wish that he position the house by Paradise Falls, where Ellie had always imagined it, and he coops Russell to help him.

Along the way they meet another outsider, a talking dog called Dug. They befriend a brilliantly coloured flightless bird called Kevin, and encounter Carl’s old hero Charles Muntz. Muntz is now the premier bad guy with a dirigible and a pack of talking dogs. They are Dug’s old pack who have shunned him. Muntz is obsessed with capturing Kevin and he believes that Carl is after the bird himself and this makes him an enemy.

Now the action starts with Kevin taken on board the airship and Russell determined to free him. Carl gets the house airborne and takes off after Russell. Muntz launches a trio of biplanes (piloted by dogs) from the dirigible and they attempt to shoot the house down. Russell outsmarts the dogs and frees Kevin and in the final battle Muntz falls to his doom leaving Russell, Carl and Dug victorious.

Listening to the words of the artists at Pixar, it’s hard not to see them as one time geeks. They were the loner kids who wrote, painted, maybe even made model aeroplanes while the non-geeks played sports and ran with the pack. They were the odd balls, the ones who didn’t join in, the ones to be pitied. These are the kids who grew up to make a fabulous, memorable piece of art, on the cutting edge of computer technology yet with its roots deep in the emotional style of Capra.

Good going geeks.


  1. I very much liked Up because it is creative and unpredictable. The story is wildly imaginative. Pixar seems to have a good crew who are going for innovative storytelling rather than the predictable Broadway style dramatic and scary kids' movies that have prevailed since Don Bluth was let go from Disney.

  2. Can you think of a single bad movie that Pixar has ever made? Can you think of anyone else, anyone, who has a record like that?

    After being massively underwhelmed by both 'Inception' and 'Salt', both of which build you up, and then massively let you down by failing to deliver on their promises, I'm thinking of taking a spin with 'Toy Story 3'. I have this feeling that Pixar won't let me down.