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: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Wilbur, the pig who thinks he's a dog (Dom Joly)  

My hilarious pet pig Wilbur is more popular than I am — so I'll let him bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
 

Amazon's new 'payment by the page' policy will just result in longer but likely worse literature

Katy Guest
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'