Wednesday 24 February 2010


I watched Finding Nemo with my 2 year old the other day and almost immediately remembered that within the first couple of minutes of the film they kill off Nemo's mother and all his potential siblings. He hasn't quite worked out the significance of that opening scene yet, but I'm not relishing his dawning realisation. It made me realise that if you think about it, a lot of Disney films for children don't tend to pull their punches. I believe those film classification types call it 'mild peril' or something like that. Kids that are too young to get it, don't, and so their films work on those different levels for the wide audience range and when kids make those connections as they grow up perhaps the medium of the film helps to soften the blow.

With the opening section of Disney and Pixar's latest however it's the adults who may need to have a hanky at hand. In another of those magical sequences with no word spoken we are presented with almost the entire life of Carl Frederickson with all of the love and loss that entails. If you can make it through that without a lip tremble then you're made of tougher stuff than me. After a trash compacting robot in Wall.E Carl is another unlikely hero for an animated family film. A 78 year old balloon salesman with hearing aid and walker, Carl is cantankerously voiced by Ed Asner. As housing developments and blocks of flats spring up around the home he has occupied for most of his adult life Carl makes an extraordinary escape, house and all, in order to purse one of his life's ambitions. Piloting a detached house (no pun intended) is presumably hard enough but when Carl finds a stowaway in the form of Wilderness Explorer Russell you know things can only get tougher. The double generation gap and Carl's general impatience create a nice tension, of which Russell is entirely ignorant, for their adventure in South America. The fauna they encounter, especially the non-indigineous variety, add further to Carl's obstacles in achieving that long-held ambition.

So, yet another engaging, charming, quirky, and original film from the Pixar lot. What this film manages like no other before it is to be heart-breakingly romantic without a touch of sentimentality. You can see the love of the filmmakers in every scene. Their successes from Toy Story onwards were allegedly all sketched out in a single meeting, what a meeting of creativity that must have been. One wonders what they might come up with next (after Toy Story 3 that is).


Anonymous,  24 February 2010 at 17:14  

I needed more than one hanky! I loved this film so much.

Pixar films always bear repeatedly re-watching - to catch all the little in-jokes and nuances, so I'm looking forward to seeing it again very soon.

William Rycroft 25 February 2010 at 11:01  

Just seen your own review Annabel and can see how much you loved it. I have a friend who thought it was sugary and sentimental but one of the things I loved about it was that I found it to be neither of those things.

You're right about the boon of re-watching, something that has been of real benefit recently with rainy days and a bored 2 year old in the house. I find myself currently singing songs from The Little Mermaid, Lion King, or Beauty and the Beast out loud at work. I can just about get away with it, working in a theatre, but must make sure I don't break into a number when out in the street.

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