I've always believed that the best kids' movies are just as appealing (if not more so) to adults as to kids and so, despite not having any kids of our own as an excuse, we have braved the hordes at the local Cineplex several times over the past several years to see some of the best kids' movies, including "Wall-E" last year, "The Incredibles" a couple of years ago, "Toy Story," "Enchanted," and even "Freaky Friday" with Jamie Lee Curtis & Lindsay Lohan in the role I remember Jodie Foster playing when I WAS a kid.
I had heard the new Pixar movie "Up" was very good. Then I read, in Pamela Jeanne's blog, that it included an infertility/childless angle. I was intrigued. So we decided to go see it on opening weekend. (Both 3-D & non-3-D versions were playing at our local cineplex -- the 3-D version was sold out, and we really didnt' care anyway, so we went to the regular version. Probably a wise choice, since there were already more than enough toddlers in the audience -- not to mention their parents, with BlackBerrys & cellphones annoyingly glowing in the dark, despite the request to turn them OFF that came with the coming attractions.... grrrrr.....).
Before I get into the movie itself, I should warn you that there's actually a short that precedes it. (Yes! an actual short/cartoon feature -- which used to be a regular thing at the movies, when I was very young...). I couldn't believe my eyes when I realized it was about... STORKS. And how babies are made (in the clouds, of course!!). That was one "eek" moment. The story follows one particular little grey cloud cloud who, shall we say, is having trouble in the babymaking department, & feeling, shall we say, inadequate? Not an infertile cloud, mind you, but while the other clouds are effortlessly popping out adorable human babies & lambs & kittens, etc., this one is coming up with crocodiles & snakes that present challenges for the dogged stork assigned to deliver them. In the end, I was laughing, but I felt sorry for the little cloud all the same.
The movie proper finally started. And even though I had been forewarned of the plot premise in advance, and had a rough idea of how the first 10 minutes of the movie would evolve, I was not prepared for the emotional wallop it packed.
The opening introduces us to Carl & Ellie as children, and shows us how they met. Then, wordlessly, we follow them through the next 60 years, from their marriage, through what seems to be either a miscarriage or a diagnosis of infertility, through the years as they grow old together, to Ellie's death. It's an amazing, moving, perfect little piece of filmmaking.
And it made me bawl. Seriously. I was trying not to cry TOO loudly (because there were children all around me), but it took enormous effort to suppress my sobs & I was shaking like a leaf. At the same time, my dh was squeezing my hand so tightly I thought he was going to crush a bone. Once I pulled myself together, I had to take my glasses off to clean them because they were so waterlogged, I could not see the screen. Had to bring out the Kleenex again toward the end of the movie. I should add that besides being involuntarily childless, I'm a scrapbooker, and there is a scrapbook that figures prominently in key points in the plot.
Despite the tears -- I thought it was an absolutely wonderful movie, for so many reasons. Obviously, being involuntarily childless, dh & I couldn't help but relate to the characters of Ellie & Carl. Their emphasis on the "adventures" they would have together made me smile because, although dh & I have never wanted to go to South America, whenever we're going somewhere new, one of us is likely to say, "A new adventure for Sammy & Lori!"
And, as childless woman, I appreciated the movie's message hugely -- that it's possible to have a full & happy marriage without children -- and that you don't necessarily have to go to Paradise Falls to find adventure -- there may be adventures to be had in your own backyard, if you know where to look. Kind of reminded me of "The Wizard of Oz" in that respect. (I can remember bawling my eyes out as a kid when the wizard took off in his balloon from Oz to go back to Kansas, leaving Dorothy behind.)
Melissa of Stirrup Queens just wrote a wonderful review of "Up" on her BlogHer blog, including links to other posts about the movie (this post is an expansion of my comment there). I had no idea that some parents were objecting to the suggestion of miscarriage in the opening. I have a feeling they're probably making a bigger deal out of it than most of their kids ever will. I'm sure the kids will be focused much more on the adventure itself, Kevin the colourful, chocolate-eating bird, and the talking dogs. (There's a sequence with dogs playing poker that's taken straight from the classic picture -- dh & I totally cracked up, but I think we were the only ones in the entire theatre who got the joke.)
I have read some IF blogs & message board posts in which people said they would not go to see the movie because the subject of infertility/pregnancy loss & childlessness hit too close to home. I can understand that -- and that maybe I'm in a different place now than someone who is still going through infertility treatment -- but I would encourage people to see the movie. You should definitely bring some Kleenex -- but ultimately, I think the message of "Up" was uplifting.
Have you seen the movie and, if so, what did you think?