Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Pixar comedy offers light relief in Cannes

May 13, 2009

cannes1The first film has been shown at Cannes and it is already a hit, which will come as welcome relief in the general climate of economic crisis that has surrounded the start of the festival.

Disney/Pixar’s “Up”, the story of retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, thrown together with a keen but clumsy boy scout called Russell, has been hailed as “arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever” by The Hollywood Reporter and as a “tremendous film” by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

Director Pete Docter said he was inspired by film-makers of an earlier era like Frank Capra and “Up’s” debt to old movies is obvious.

Three dimensional digital effects give a remarkable visual depth to the adventure of the gruff old widower and the zealous young stowaway who float away to South America in a house borne aloft under a string of balloons. As the pair swing precariously through the clouds above the jungle green or flee a bounding pack of dogs, the 3D effects add a dazzling dimension to the tale. But beneath it all, the film is an old fashioned story of love and redemption in the classic Hollywood manner that would have done the old master proud. “Walt Disney always said that for every laugh there has to be a tear,” said producer and Pixar boss John Lasseter. Many a tear certainly seemed to be creeping out from under the special 3D goggles at the press screening and it was faintly disconcerting to see so many hardened reporters blubbing silently away as the credits rolled.

None of that will hurt of course and amid all the gloomy talk of recession and cancelled parties, “Up” added an undoubted “feel good” element at Cannes that will doubtless translate into huge commercial success. “Boxoffice-wise, the sky’s the limit for ‘Up.’” , The Hollywood Reporter, for one, opined.
Four years in the making, “Up” was conceived well before subprime mortgages, a collapsing financial system and ever-mounting jobless rolls became the stuff of daily headlines.

But its echoes of the sentimental comedies that audiences turned to for comfort and entertainment in the troubled decades of the 1930s and 1940s, seem oddly appropriate in an economy facing its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

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