I figured this movay would be a breeze. Fantastical soaring house on strings of balloons looking all Roald Dahlly! Old man living his dream story! Dopey cub scout kid! Talking dog! White fluff cotton clouds! Never too late to live your dream message! All Pixared up with the 3-D newness to boot! I woulda bet that by the end of this flick I woulda been soaked in my own tears. Childhood wonder stirred with first love, innocence, and reality of age? Boom done! Let em fly! I even wondered if the non-traditional story angle would knock off Nemo's crown. (Nemo is my reigning champ of Pixar movies and I think it's the best animated movie ever.) But shockingly, this movie wasn't even a threat. In fact, by the 45-minute mark I could almost hear it audibly bonking down the Pixar ladder until settling at the very bottom of the list. Right under the Cars. Dead last.
First off, I'm now officially nervous that all animated movies are going be obligated to be in 3-D from here on out. After the upcoming long run of animated 3-D movies-- will 'flat' movies may be perceived as cheap or oldschool? Less than the full experience? In the two animated flicks I've seen in 3-D (Coraline and Up), not only do I find the 3-D to be unnecessary but an actual distraction. Maybe it's because I'm wearing the 3-D glasses over my regular glasses or whatever but the 3-D 'action scenes' are never without some small degree of out of focusness. When things move fast they blur and other times it feels I have a weirdly subtle 'magic-eye-esque' situation where I feel like my eyes aren't seeing things quite right. Like it's my fault.
On top of it there seems to be this hesitation to truly pimp out the technology. There's never the 'Ahhh...' moment with a waving stick in my face or some kind of ball looking like it's gonna land in my lap. No wow pop? It's almost like 2.5-D 98% of the time. Who needs it if you're not gonna jolt me back? Too tacky? If that's what you think-- leave 3-D at home. I have an imagination. My eyes can provide the pop to my brain. It's sad for me to think that flat digital animated movies are going to go the way of cel animation. Because at this point, I think this whole 3-D thing strikes me as a cheesy gimmick.
Anyway, 3-D aside, this movay had other issues that surprised me. The most prominent one is that I didn't really like it. The backstory of the old man and his wife carried a heaviness that seemed to tether the movie. Frankly, I'm not sure I found it to be hugely inspirational-- one reason being that I felt sad for the wife. Here was this brighteyed life-high world loving adventurer chick (also a more interesting character btw) who ends up rattling around in a house sweeping dustbunnies instead of living her dream? A pre-feminism downer of sorts. Kids are an acceptable grounder but these two had no kids and still didn't travel together at all. Sorry but I'm not gonna be thrilled with the takeaway there regardless of the perceived photographic happiness of lovebirds enjoying tea under an apple tree or laughing in chairs. Practically felt like they were living on Revolutionary Road. In retrospect, that's probably a heavy handed overthunk nitpick but there was plenty more in this flick that slowly squeak farted the air out of my Pixar balloon.
Throughout this flick I was let down by almost every new direction and gear shift. Just as the balloon thing was taking off-- it came down to earth. The end destination drive became a whatevery goal. As much as the talking dogs were fun and kept this flick above water at critical moments-- the canine hi-tech seemed constantly out of place in that lost landscape. The bad guy's motivation and drive was unconvincing and when he was at his worst he made the kids in the theater cry. Literally. Blah blah yadda not sure why I left this flick all grumpy old mannish but it just brought it out in me.
Before I run out of typing room let me squeeze in some positives at least. I did laugh a whole bunch of times (especially at the dogs). Visually there was some stuff that was colorfully whoa-ish. I was never actually bored. I smelled breezes. I liked the music. I was able to feel the physical weight of the house. The bird was funny always. And yes, in the end I was entertained. But I think this story fell in love with the image of balloons lifting a house-- and they simply didn't know how to make it fly.
Three Good Things About this Movie
- I thought the first lovey 20 minutes was bigly touching and 100% goodness. I got teary within
- The talking dog thing worked its funny throughout. A savior to this flick.
- There were some visuals that had some smiley pop.
Three Bad Things About this Movie
- I thought we were going on a trip around the world. I thought wrong.
- There were annoying logic problems and strategy loopholes all over the place.
- As soon as the house took off it yanked out some sort of truly human emotional chord.
All in all, this movie was a concerning warning flare from Pixar. I hope they don't fill a bathtub with good reviews and assume they're still on their game while they soak in luke warmity. Because this movie was the first off movay to come out of Pixar. Maybe Lassister, Bird and Stanton have taken their eye off the ball to deal with the complication of owning islands or whatever the fk-- but I think they gotta check in and mind the store. Because this flick felt like the result of the most typical hollywood mistake--- greenlighting a really cool sounding pitch and worrying later about the actual story...