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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Deputy Editor's Letter:

Independent Voices, Indy Voices Rhodri Jones
A couple stand in front of a beautiful cloudy scene  

In sickness and in health: It’s been stormy but there are blessings in the clouds

Rebecca Armstrong
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor