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more about Up and WALL-E (spoilers!)

Well, my review of Up was pretty short (I was aiming for “pithy”), but the comments have already grown longer than the post, and in them Tyler raises an issue that I’ve been thinking and talking about the past couple of days.

Apparently, a whole lot of people find the long opening sequence, which follows Carl and Ellie from childhood to Ellie’s death, quite moving. I know I’ll probably forever be in a minority on this, but it really didn’t have much impact on me. Part of that is definitely my own temperament — I’m not a sniffling at the movies kind of guy, or even an “it’s getting dusty in here” kind of guy (to quote Adam and Matty). But some movies do get to me. Just not this one.

Now, just so we’re on the same page, I do admire the scene. In fact, I think as pure cinema, it’s brilliant — we know these characters and their lives, and there’s not an ounce of fat. But it’s maybe too simple for subtlety. The scrapbook and the tickets in the picnic basket are just a bit much. They didn’t sneak up on me, they told me what to feel, and that breaks the spell.

There also seems to be a feeling that the scene is more impressive for being in an animated Disney film, but I’m really not a fan of grading on a curve (plus, there’s always Bambi’s mom). The thing is, with a Pixar film, I don’t really think about the fact that I’m watching an animated film, or a quote-unquote kid’s film, and I don’t feel that’s what they aspire to be compared to (well, maybe Cars does). But the thing is, I’ve already seen Love Story and Terms of Endearment and find them cloying.

I think WALL-E is a much better and less conventional film than Up, but it has the calculated tear-jerker scene when WALL-E is damaged. That scene also doesn’t really work for me, because I’ve seen it so many times in other films: of course WALL-E is going to come back to life and remember EVE. Duh. The scenes that get me the most are the montage of WALL-E looking after EVE when she shuts down, and the zero-G space dance. I’m not even sure I could articulate why they choke me up, and I’m kind of afraid that if I could, they wouldn’t.