Tag Archives: Up

More music

Matt Yglesias thinks summer blockbusters (most recently, Public Enemies) are too long:

I feel like it’s way more common to walk out of a theater feeling that a movie was too long than to walk out feeling like I wished there’d been 15 more minutes. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling. So what’s going on?

I can’t speak for Mr. Depp’s film, but Up is a great recent example of a short movie that doesn’t need to be any longer. Pixar wound the story, the jokes, the visuals so tightly that any more screen time would have watered it down. Just ask George Lucas: the second trio of Star Wars flicks were, on average, ten minutes longer than the originals.

I’m not sure the same applies for music. Off the top of my head, I can come up with a handful of songs I like, that I wish were a verse or two longer: the first and third songs on In the Aeroplane over the Sea, Carry That Weight, and Conor Oberst’s NYC-Gone Gone, to name a few. This last one is the worst offender: a ripping guitar riff, that only lasts 1:12. Perhaps the song would have been ruined by an extra minute, but in sticking with the musical theme of the week, I offer the King as evidence: Billie Jean, Man in the Mirror, Thriller, and Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough were all over 4:50.

So there you have it. Movies should be shorter; songs should be longer.


Talking Dogs

I agree completely with Alan Jacobs’ first sentiment in his listicle review of Up:

One: I loved it. I laughed, I cried.

I wholly contest his second point:

Two: Talking dogs who fly little fighter airplanes? There’s Dreamworks for that. This strikes me as the kind of thing that Pixar usually avoids: in Pixar’s worlds, animals (and toys) usually can talk to each other but not to human beings. Think about how Remy in Ratatouille chatters away to other rats but responds to Linguini with a rather full repertoire of Gallic gestures. By following this rule most of the time the filmmakers are able to get maximum effect from breaking it, e.g., when the toys in Toy Story scare the crap out of Sid by talking to him. I think the talking dogs in Up constitute one of the larger narrative missteps Pixar has made in a while.

Is the idea of digitally-assisted talking dogs the most clever Pixar has come up with? Not by a long shot. And is it an important narrative element? Not really. But they are Pixar’s funniest supporting characters since the alien dolls from Toy Story. The dogs don’t serve an important narrative purpose; they are comic relief. This very easily could have been a cutesy, lame gimmick, but of the dozen belly laughs I felt in the theater, 11 were dog-induced. Pixar just does talking creatures better.