I sat in the theater Friday night waiting for the lights to go down and I pondered the possibility that UP might be Pixar’s first flop. I’ve come to feel about that moment when the Pixar logo appears much the same as I once did about the glittering green of a Lucasfilm logo. When it flashes up on the screen, the theater quiets and I can almost hear someone bending low to pull the covers up around my chin and whisper, “Ssshhh, I’m going to tell you a story—and this is one of the good ones.”
Ten years ago I realized that the Lucasfilm icon of my youth had tarnished and lost its glitter and become no more than the color of money. So once bitten and twice shy, I enter the cinema halls of story and light with more skepticism than I once did.
I watched the crowd filter in and find their seats and I wondered at what an eclectic pilgrimage they were. Young boys and girls came hand in hand all covered in blushes, laughter and delight. They came in families, by the dozens, herding children with candy and eyes peeled wide. Groups of young men sauntered in adorned with attitudes like costume jewelry, their pants slung low and clattering with chains. Elderly couples stepped down the aisles deliberate and slow to settle themselves patiently into their seats. The middle-aged, the old-aged, and the barely aged at all filled the theater and hushed to hear the whisper when the lights went low.
What a privilege it is to have the trust of your audience. Such is Pixar’s legacy that people who would otherwise turn up their nose at a mere ‘cartoon’ came in droves to fill the house based on the trust of a studio’s name alone. It’s a precious and delicate thing and with each successive film I fear the spell will finally shatter.
But UP isn’t a flop. The integrity of the Pixar name is well intact and may it be so for years to come. There’s nothing I can write here that can say more eloquently what has already been said in theaters across the country. UP’s reviews are written in a communal grammar built of gasps, and happy tears, a language filled with the sighs of the long-lived, the breathless wonder of cynics like me, and best of all the laughter and joyous exclamation not only of children but of those who dare to come and sit in the darkness and hear the storyteller’s whisper and remember how to be child-like once more.
So if UP moved you the way it did me then I hope you’ll tell us how. It’s UP (har har) to the audience to write this review.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he’s the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.