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by Laura G. Brown




[]  It's worth seeing Up, if for no other reason than as a touchstone for pop culture. But there are other reasons to see this Pixar movie, including production values so lavish you'll be transported as well as entertained. You might even find yourself cheering for the unlikely hero, 78-year-old Carl Fredericksen -- an individualistic character you'll swear you've met at a Libertarian convention.

Before you see Up, there's a bonus cartoon called Partly Cloudy. Its premise is that storks get the babies they deliver from fluffy cloud creatures who make round-headed, big-eyed humans and puppies at a great rate. In contrast, one gloomy, stormy cloud makes toothy crocodiles and prickly junior porcupines. The stork assigned to this gloomy cloud gets increasingly frazzled and beat up by the dangerous babies, yet he cheerfully keeps coming back for more.

At this point, I started to see an analogy of how Americans keep going back for more socialist government programs, despite dismal results. As the stork dons a football helmet and willingly returns for even more punishment, I thought: This creature is a literal birdbrain. Surely, Americans have enough sense to turn away from cobbled-together Frankenstein-like creations such as government health care.

In Up, Ed Asner voices the curmudgeonly Fredericksen, a widower who feels so strongly about his property rights that he lifts his house to the heavens with helium balloons to escape the authorities, and to find the South American paradise of his boyhood dreams.

Jason Nagai is the voice of Carl's adventurous stowaway, Russell, a persistent boy not unlike that Libertarian candidate who gets a registered Libertarian voter to sign three or four petitions once he gets his foot in the door. Russell's earnestness and loyalty provide a conscience for Up.





Up borrows from the best children's classics: Carl's house rises aloft under brightly colored helium balloons, not unlike James's giant peach; the old man raps someone on the head with a stick and gets nabbed by The Man, as in Miracle on 34th Street, and the house flies through storms and lands in a colorful, exotic land, as in The Wizard of Oz.

But none of the classics had Pixar's modern ideas: Developers are faceless, evil mafia dons; villains hunt endangered species for their own gain; seniors can be productive adventurers; and parental roles can be filled by those willing to show up at important times in a child's life.

Disney/Pixar hasn't been known as a font of social awareness, but this film departs from the usual safe territory in depicting the infertility and death of a likeable character (Carl's wife) and showing Russell as a child of divorce who's repeatedly disappointed by his father. Even the brightly colored, gender-confused, tropical bird, Kevin, (stalked by the evil Muntz, voiced by Christopher Plummer), has been  co-opted by some in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender movement as being a heroic symbol of their persecuted minority.

There are even some modern Pavlovian ideas about how animal behavior is shaped by stimuli. The dogs, able to talk with scientific genius Muntz's collars, provide some of the most hilarious moments when they honestly explain their motives.

The director, Pete Docter, uses his own voice for Dug, the overly-friendly, nerdy dog. When Dug exhibits doggy ADD at the sight of a squirrel or tennis ball, and the evil pack leader's collar gets stuck in a high helium voice mode, you’ll feel you've got your money's worth. 



Laura G. Brown is a teacher and writer living in San Gabriel, CA.

She is a veteran candidate for State Assembly on the Libertarian Party of California.

Her email: lauragbrown at sbcglobal dot net.


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