A good friend of mine, who is also a movie critic in Bloomington, insisted: You should totally come and see UP with me, you’ll love it! And I did love it, today, more than ever…
UP is Pixar’s new movie. The plot is as follows: Carl Fredrickson, a little boy at the time, meets a young adventure spirited girl named Ellie. Ellie’s dream is to go to the Lost Land in South America and meet an adventurer who claims to have found a rare (and somewhat mythical) breed of bird. Because no one believes him (and he is called a “fake”), the adventurer goes back to the Lost Land and wows not to return to civilization until he brings the bird back dead or alive. Ellie dreams of following suit. She even has a scrap book that she intends to complete with pictures documenting all the adventures that she will have once she is there. 70 years later, Ellie dies without fulfilling this dream of hers. Carl remembers the promise he made to her. Then, when he inadvertently hits a construction worker, Carl is forced to go to a retirement home. But before they can take him, he and his house fly away. However he has a stowaway aboard. An 8-year-old boy named Russell, whose trying to get an “assisting the elderly badge.” Together, they embark in an adventure, where they encounter talking dogs, an evil villain (the adventurer) and the mythical bird that Russell affectionately names, Kevin, irrespective of the bird’s gender.
The most touching part of the movie, the part that brought tears to my eyes, was when Carl opens Ellie’s scrap book and sees that the pages of the book has already been filled with the pictures of adventures of a different kind: the adventures of their life together, their marriage. It is after seeing that the contents of the book has already been filled that Carl is able to let go of the house and watch it fall into the abyss to disappear forever. When little Russell apologizes for the lost house, Carl pats him on the back and says “It was only a house, son.”
I can understand why he would like this movie. The movie is about the periods in one’s life marked by dramatic change, when you feel that the floor underneath you is slipping and you try very hard not to lose control. You feel like a butterfly upside down, not sure what tomorrow will bring. At those times, you have to rise up to the challenge and ride the waves, take on the adventures one by one and let go of that clunky house of the past that you keep carrying around.
I know that he was just emerging out of that period. He recently got divorced, sold his house, moved to Bloomington, was about to become “solvent,” (meaning he was about to pay off some of this expensive home entertainment equipment he had purchased.) He quit smoking, was seriously looking into making a career as a film critic somewhere else, maybe in Chicago, so he can still see his children. He had made some meaningful decisions about his life as well. He was (for once, he said) very confident in his decision making skills and believed that he can make a life on his own.
I am coming out of a similar period. Having finally finished Ph.D. work, I now feel liberated but scared. I completed an important chapter in my life and accomplished what many fail to accomplish. But what now? Job search? Student loans? Place to live? Will I be successful? Will I be happy? Full of adventures yet to come, not sure where I land on.
Because he knew all that, he insisted we should watch the movie together. We had agreed on having standing gaming nights, I was trying to convince him that he pick up WoW, which he wasn’t sure was a good idea given his “addictive” nature. He was going to have a Woodstock party. I was going to help him create some kind of a brand for his name as a film critic using social media tools, show him ways in which he can blog, Twitter, or use Facebook.
This morning, I get a call, he was found dead… in his bed… No Woodstock party, no blog account, no Twitter account, he is not even my friend in Facebook. And I write a blog post for his memory… Rest in peace, my friend. I will take you to the Lost Land 🙂
Here’s his last movie review on Pixar’s UP.