Pop quiz, Shmoop-shot: Is animation a genre or a technique?
We’d say it’s both. As a genre, animated films are characterized by brilliant colors and fantastical worlds. Up has both of those qualities in spades. From the millions of balloons that hoist Carl’s house up, up, up and away to Kevin’s Technicolor plumage, Up is a feast for the eyes. Its representation of South America is equally vibrant—and populated with whimsical elements that scream animation. (We’re looking at you again, Kevin.) In short, Up fits the animation mold because its computer-generated universe is dynamic and populated with people, places, creatures and events—you know, like a floating house—that aren’t possible in a live-action flick.
Up is bursting at its cinematic seams with adventure. We have characters on a quest, an exotic jungle locale, and an epic battle requiring acts of heroism—and tennis balls. Muntz himself, with his pencil thin mustache and swashbuckling demeanor, is a throwback to adventure movie stars of old, like Errol Flynn. But Muntz and Carl also subvert the conventions of the genre. How? Because they’re ancient! Up is a high-stakes journey into the unknown, and with its geriatric stars, it’s also a bold twist on the adventure film.
Comedy films are all about bringing the chuckles. What makes Up so funny? First, there’s Carl and Russell’s odd couple relationship. Up wrings laughs from their age gap and contrasting demeanors. Then there are visual gags, like Muntz and Carl’s old man fight, complete with creaking joints, a cane-turned-sword, and spat dentures.
Last, but not least, we have Dug and the rest of the talking dog pack. They’re an example of clash of context humor, meaning that putting dogs in the place of henchmen yields absurd, and absurdly funny, results. From their obsession with squirrels to Alpha’s malfunctioning voice box, Up’s dogs will have you panting with laughter.
See what we did there? Panting? Because they’re dogs? We know, we know; we’re so funny you forgot to laugh.