Why I Don’t Like Up

thoughtful

Listening to: Lilac Wine – Jeff Buckley

I think we should stop using the word theory for fan theories. Theory implies that it’s an idea one feels to be true, when there is not really such a think as truth in fiction–only accuracy, intention, or honesty. My thing about Up is not a fan theory, it’s a way that I have analysed the repulsing affect this movie has on me. I apologise if I’ve repeat anything I’ve said before. Also, I probably spelled names wrong and totally forgot one of the character’s names, but I’ll just have to be forgiven. I want to post this and if I don’t put Owen to sleep right now, he’s going to IMPLODE.

This morning, Owen was watching Up, a movie that I have never cared for, and he watches on effing repeat. A lot of people say that the beginning is too sad, and I agree, but probably not for the same reasons. After the tearjerker open, the rest of the story tugs gradually less at the heartstrings. It actually parallels fairly well with the increasing levels of silliness. At the saddest possible moment, when Mr Frederikson is seconds away from being forced to leave his home (which he seems to have as a placeholder for his wife, to the point of conflation, in an emotional sense) the whimsy kicks in.

It’s a great moment, but everything that happens afterward is zany. I hate that word, and it describes exactly what it’s like to watch this movie. As in a dream, elements of Mr Frederikson’s life are combined and spat back out in unlikely ways that give him things that he wanted in his life, which were never possible.

Russell’s character is obvious. The Frederiksons wanted to have children, but were unable to do so. So his mind takes the actual child he met and crafts a believable fantasy. Not just a kid to bond with, but one who slowly erodes whatever defences he built up when he learned he wouldn’t be a father (“I don’t like kids anyway” kind of thing) and then provides a fulfilment of the protective instinct by needing a father figure where his expected one failed.

A blurry one is the dog, Dug. From what we saw of Mr Frederikson’s family, they appeared to be repressed and strict, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he was one of the many boys who wanted a dog and couldn’t have one. It also looks like he lived in a city (I assumed Manhattan for some reason) so there’s another reason a dog might not happen. And don’t even get me started on the significance of dogs in dream interpretation.

The last and zaniest fantasy is that of meeting his childhood hero. This one is a giant Torgue-y level of explosion noise, psychologically speaking. Mr Frederikson doesn’t just go to that long-promised vacation spot. He meets the explorer whom both he and his wife admired as children. This is basically what brought them together. And upon meeting the man, he discovers that he is psychotic, murderous, and although his accomplishments remain the stuff of admiration, the man himself goes from hero to threat.

Where to even start with that one? I could liken the childhood hero to Mr Frederikson’s marriage, relationship with his wife, and/or the inspiration and drive to just live every day. His wife’s death was like finding out that the hero was evil. What good is love, if it ends this painfully, one might say. (I wouldn’t, but other people do think that way) I thought that the plot point where Mr Frederikson has to throw out a bunch of his material possessions so that he can save the day seemed tacked on, an extraneous message that didn’t need to be there.

But what if. What if it isn’t just an anti-materialism message? What if the hero/villain does represent the pain of Mrs Frederikson’s death, and letting go of all of the things meant that in order to save himself from that pain, he had to stop living in the past? Maybe he was forcing himself to stop using his wife’s possessions as a crutch to avoid accepting her death. Eventually, the house “dies” with the villain.

The ending is idealistic and the sense of scale is insane. There aren’t any consequences for spending days in South America. The only important thing is that Russell gets to have his father figure fulfill a specific need. The mind is not rational in fantasy. None of this is real.

To me, though, it doesn’t come off like a funny fantasy story, not with a beginning like that. To me, it looks like the last spinning dream of a man who has given up. Manic, frenzied, telling jokes that aren’t funny and then laughing at itself. Nothing feels real because it isn’t.

I don’t like this movie because it feels like watching someone hallucinate while he lies dying.

 

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