Brian Viner: 'Up' and away with you, critics

There are certain films we are almost arm-locked into admiring

Share
Related Topics

A few days ago I went with my wife and children to see Up, the new feature film by those brilliant animators at Pixar. As you are perhaps aware, Up has been lauded to the skies as one of the greatest achievements in animated film-making since Walt Disney doodled his first mouse.

In this very paper, my colleague Anthony Quinn, the finest film critic in the business and a hard one to please, gave it a whopping five stars. Among similarly rapturous reviews, Total Film saluted nothing less than "The Greatest Moment In Movie Animation", this being the early montage charting the life of Up's hero, a curmudgeonly septuagenarian called Carl Fredricksen, and that of his late wife Ellie, from their childhoods, through their childless but happy marriage, to her death.

In the short time since Up came out folk have practically been queuing up to confess to weeping buckets during this sequence, most recently the sensible Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley. Features editors have used it as the peg for pieces on the greatest weepies ever made. It's A Wonderful Life? Terms Of Endearment? Life Is Beautiful? Up has quickly taken its place in their illustrious, tissue-soaked company.

I duly went expecting to adore it as much as everyone else, man-size Kleenex poised. Maybe that was part of the problem. Whatever, here's a really embarrassing confession: I thought the Carl and Ellie montage gruesomely mawkish. It's not as though I'm flint-hearted – on the contrary, it only takes the melting of Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music to prick my tear ducts – but nor did I find anything remotely cute about the little boy in Up who befriends Mr Fredricksen.

Like the film's big bird and talking dogs, he's just weird and annoying. All of which could be put down to a bad day at the office, or the stirrings of a cold, except that my wife and kids independently reached the same conclusion. Yes, the animation's fantastic. But we all thought Up too surreal to be truly enjoyable.

What this amounts to is cultural treason. There are certain films, books, plays, songs, paintings, television programmes, and indeed writers, singers, artists, actors and for that matter newspaper columnists, that we are not merely expected to admire, but almost arm-locked into admiring at first by critics and commentators, and in due course by public opinion. Do you find Citizen Kane tedious, or think Laurence Olivier a ham, or Frank Sinatra average, or Dad's Army unfunny? Did The Catcher In The Rye leave even your teenage self cold? Then you're out of step with the critical mass, which is never a comfortable predicament.

So I'd like to state here my support for individualism of the critical faculty, for opining against the tide. I'd like to, but regrettably I can't. We recently lent some good friends our DVDs of the first series of The Thick Of It, certain that they'd love it. We could hardly wait to be able to laugh with them about it. Yet they found it singularly, irredeemably unamusing. Idiots.

b.viner@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A happy ending for celebrity memoirs

Katy Guest
William Hague with his former special adviser, Christopher Myers  

Who needs special advisers? We all do

John Rentoul
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick