Thursday, June 4, 2009

UPs and Downs

*Note: If you don't want details or spoilers about the movie UP, you might want to skip this post until after you've seen it!

My husband and I have a fun tradition. For the past 13 years, we have always made a date to go to the movies and see the latest film together. It all started with our first date in January of 1996, where the first movie we ever saw together was's very first film, Toy Story. (You can read more about our first date HERE.) Ten great films later, we still look forward to seeing their latest creation, and we get excited when we start seeing previews for what will become, for us at least, a new animated classic.

A couple of days ago, we set out to see the latest release, UP. It was a great evening for us to go to the movies. We had spent the whole weekend clearing everything out of our living room to have the floor replaced. We needed a break. We like to go to the theater on weeknights to try to avoid the crowds, and we know that soon summer will be in full swing with schools out and more people flocking to the theater. So, we got settled in with our tub o' popcorn, large soft drink to share, and napkins for our buttery fingers. Perfect.

After the previews, it was time for the always-anticipated short film that precedes the movie. I couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed that it featured, of all things, storks. Yes, the baby-delivering kind. That's okay. After all, it's not called a "short" film for nothing. It was over pretty quickly, and didn't focus much on the overjoyed faces of new parents with their swaddled surprises. Just a minor setback. Chuck and I exchanged glances and I mouthed the word "Seriously?" and the movie began.

Going into it, here's what I thought UP was about, based on previews I'd seen: A crotchety old man who used to live in a peaceful neighborhood is now not pleased about the urban development around his home. He doesn't want to sell the house and he doesn't want to be bothered, not even by the cute kid who knocks on his door seeking to earn a badge for assisting the elderly. The old man hatches a plan to get away from it all by tying thousands of balloons to his house and lifting himself and all of his beloved possessions up and away. He discovers that he is accompanied by the aforementioned kid, they have adventures, the kid softens the old man, end of story.

And that is pretty much what it is about. But, I was missing some details that, to some, may seem minor. You see, the old man is not just crotchety. He is grieving. In the early scenes of the film, we see him as a boy who dreams of adventure. Young Carl meets young Ellie, they grow up, fall in love, and get married. Soon they begin dreaming of bringing home a bundle of joy.

These scenes of the movie pass by quickly, like pieces of the old man's memory. Suddenly the scene shifts from the young couple on a sunny day, imagining images of babies in the clouds, to a heartbreaking scene of Carl and Ellie in a cold hospital, receiving devastating news. We don't hear the news, but we don't need to. They'll never have a child. Their baby dreams are over.

But Ellie has another dream. She dreams of exploring the wilds of South America and taking in the view of Paradise Falls with her own eyes, a goal made when she was a little girl. She wants to fill up their adventure book (a scrapbook whose pages will hold their most precious memories).

We can all relate to this, but life passes by so quickly and those dreams get pushed aside while we live (even happily) from day to day. Ellie and Carl are a happy couple, even though life hasn't always been easy. Carl finally realizes that it is time to make his wife's dream of adventure come true, and he buys the tickets even though they are much older now. It's not too late! Then, sadly, Ellie's health declines. The movie has just started, and just when I think I can't feel any more devastated, Carl is alone. It's my biggest fear. Not that I'll never get to see places I dream of seeing, of course, but that I'll end up all alone in the world someday without my dear husband, and with no children or grandchildren.

Sheesh. All this from a cartoon? I wasn't exactly expecting it either. I didn't hate the movie at all. I loved it. It was sad but it was also cute, sweet, and funny. But even after the story unfolded and Carl changed his life for the better, overcoming his grief and solitude, I still had to deal with my old familiar fear and hurt coming back to the surface. I watched the entire movie with a huge knot in my stomach and tears rolling down my cheeks. Afterward, my sister sent me a message to ask how the movie was and I could only respond, "SAD." She had been planning to take her boys to see it the next day. When I called her after they were done seeing it, I caught her still pulling herself together in her car.

I doubt that everyone will have this same reaction to this movie. I'm not telling you not to go see it! Heck, I'll even buy the DVD when it comes out, even though my husband joked that they should have named the movie "Down." Most people, I'm sure, will find it heartwarming and will also feel sad for Carl because he lost his wife, especially just short of making her big dream a reality.

But wait! I haven't gotten to the best part yet. The best part of the movie for me was when the old man picks up his wife's old adventure scrapbook and looks at it for what must have been the hundredth time. He never could bear to look at the empty pages and be reminded of the things they never did, the dreams never fulfilled. But this time he sees something new. Ellie had filled the pages. They weren't blank after all. He could see that their adventure was simply their life together, even the simple, everyday things.

I got a lot more than I bargained for by going to see this movie. In the end, though, I don't regret it. Turns out I needed a reminder that my life with Chuck is already my adventure. Even though I don't know the ending, I'm just glad we're both along for the ride.


twondra said...

You just made me wanna go out and watch it. Sounds like a great movie.

Mark and I always get a large popcorn and a large soda to share. When I read that I was like "Awwwww". :)

prayerfuljourney said...

Sounds like a really touching movie....It's funny how "kid" movies are really more like "adult" movies in their plots. Kids love the pictures, etc and adults love the moral of the story. My dh and I have not been to a movie since our dating years. We just do pay.per. view. Glad to hear you liked the movie and it helped you to love and cherish your DH all that much more. God Bless.

Life In Mazes said...

This is such a beautiful post and to be honest, I had no idea what the movie was about. I want to see it now. What a great reminder that our lives are full of adventure with our loving husbands.

Connie said...

I don't think I'll ever forget A's 8-year old hand reaching over and grabbing mine when the scene in the hospital flashed across the screen. Trust won't be alone. I know two little boys who will grow to be young men and who love and cherish their aunt with all of their hearts.

Charisa said...

I hadn't seen the movie yet but I'm glad to that you spoiled it for me :) I have heard from several folks that it was sad and wanted to know how this seemingly adorable looking film could be sad.

Thanks for the insight. As always, your perspective is a breath of fresh air.

Tina said...

I have not seen it, But want to from your post! I dont think I will take my 3 1/2 year old though .....Im an emotional person so I will take lots of tissue...

~ Katie ~ said...

I was totally going to post about everything you mentioned...I'm glad you saved me the time :)

It was particularly hard for me to watch because I have been having a hard time these last 2 weeks with all things baby and infertility- so i was definately fighting hard not to cry in the short film (even though it was too cute) and after the dr. scene.

Of course I wasn't expecting to be hit with the death blow either.

I wish pixar would have gave me a heads up.

HUGS to you and the hubby. I totally know how you feel

Straubles said...

We LOVE everything Pixar and I'm so excited to see Up--it sounds fantastic! who says cartoons are just for kids! :-) We always joke that we need to borrow a child to take with us so we don't feel so goofy surrounded by all the parents and kids at the theatre! ;-)

Becky said...

I am so glad you posted about this. I have not seen the movie yet, though I was hoping to see it soon. I find I like a heads up about pregnancy, baby loss, birth scenes, etc so that I can be prepared for it. I would not have been prepared for it with this movie - I thought UP was about the same thing you did. In case there is anyone who feels the same as I do about this, there is a birth scene at the beginning of Star Trek.

I share your biggest fear - that something will happen to John and I'll end up alone. But I know I can't live in fear. Thank you for the reminder that my life with my husband is already my adventure and I need to remember to enjoy the simple, everyday things.

Alicia said...

Hey I just got back from seeing it, whoa!

I vascilated wildly between crying because it was so sad and crying because it was so funny and laughing like an idiot and then crying because it was so sad and then crying because it was so fun.

The storke thing caught me off gaurd too.

Then i got home and read your blog, its so touching and emotional evening :) God bless!

Anonymous said...

I forget that lesson too ... I get lose sight of the forest for the trees. Fortunately my wonderful DH is my anchor, he always brings me back out of the trees and reminds me that we live in a really awesome forest. Hopefully we can have a child, but ultimately, I'm so lucky I found him.

Abby said...

What a date Stacey! I'm glad you enjoyed the movie, although the story was sad. Sometimes we need that in our lives, but for it to be unexpected like that isn't fun at all. Thanks for the warning!!!

A said...

Wow, that movie sounds really good! I am also so glad that my hubby and I are together in this life journey- he is such a blessing!

andrea_jennine said...

Aaron and I just saw the movie last night. We cried unabashedly. (And laughed at the funny parts, too, of course.) We talked afterwards, too, about how we want to view our lives together as a marvelous adventure, whether we have children or not.

Renovation Girl said...

I, too, had the same reaction. We went to the drive in and watching it under the clear, star-filled skies made my heart ache more. IT's a wonderful movie that Disney/Pixar handled beautifully. It might replace Cars in our house!!

keep calm and carry on... said...

found your blog while linking through some other infertility blogs - glad i did! we just moved from houston a year and a half ago! the whole time i was there i though i was the only infertile girl ... i had not found blogs yet :)

i just saw "up" this past week! really did not expect the infertility additions, but it did make their story even sweeter.