I have just returned from watching Pixar's latest offering, Up.
I have always been a fan of pixar movies; I must have seen the original Toy Story a dozen times, on good old VHS. Nemo has a soft place in me because of it's Sydney setting, while I found wall-e to be intelligent and thought provoking (the end credits were especially beautifully hand made). Up, meanwhile, resonated with me in a different way.
Something about the theme of growing out with your significant other, losing him/her and then having to cope and continue to live life alone without your better half is something harrowingly saddening for me. Up explores this idea under the guise of a funny and beautifully narrated story, and every single time it touched on the topic it bought a tear to my eye; Maddie thought I was a nut.
Up is certainly not the most heroic (Incredibles), cerebral (Wall-E) or characteristically far fetching (Monsters, Inc.) of all the Pixar movies that have come before it- but something about it; the earthy theme, the scout in us we can all relate to, the grumpy old man we all know and love- makes it all the more endearing and original. Naysayers such as bankers who predicted that Up would have difficulty lifting off because of " its geriatric action hero"can stuff themselves; "wall street analyists" haven't gotten much right lately now, have they? We might as well stop listening to what they are charged to say.
I can see the influence of Miyazaki's studio Ghibli work slowly proliferating into Disney (which now owns Ghibli); the entire premise of a floating house exploring unknown land was previously probed by Howl's moving castle, and it also had other elements of previous disney movies in it too; you will catch references to the Lion King, Toy Story and probably more my slow eye (distracted by the 3D glasses) cannot see. I say this cross polination of ideas and creativity is an awesome breath of fresh air. The Japanese simply don't think like anybody else on this planet.
Here's to you, my two amazing widowed Grandmas currently living a life as if it were always lifted by a houseful of colourful helium balloons.