“It may sound boring, but I really liked it.” That’s a line Russell gives to his new friend Carl in the Disney Pixar movie “Up”. He’s talking about a time when his dad used to take him to Fenton’s for ice cream and afterward they’d count red and blue cars and see who could count the most. It’s the simplest of activities but it meant a lot to Russell. His dad has moved on to a new partner and no longer seems to have interest or time for his young son. He’s promised to come to the Wilderness Explorer’s graduation ceremony so Russell is desperately trying to get the last badge he needs to move up – the “assisting the elderly” badge. That’s how he meets Carl Fredricksen.
Carl understands where Russell is coming from. As a young lad, he met a spunky girl named Ellie. He grew up to marry her and the two of them shared a lifetime of simple activities together – saving money in a pot for a dream trip to South America only to have to smash the jar over and over again for some miscellaneous expense, eating picnics on the top of a hill and seeing shapes in the clouds, painting a mural or two in their colourful home. Ellie couldn’t make it up the hill the last time they went and ended up in hospital. The next scene is a sad Carl holding a blue balloon at her funeral. He misses the simple times he had with the love of his life.
If nothing else, the movie reminded me to treasure all the simple memories that ARE life. The dream vacation may never happen (it didn’t for Carl and Ellie) and even simple past times can come to an end (like they did for Russell). It’s good to appreciate and enjoy what you DO have – a rousing game of Sequence with the boys, a walk out back to see the tadpoles with DA, seeing the kids’ excitedly catching the spawning suckers in a neighbour’s ditch, rescuing those same suckers weeks later when conditions were much drier, fishing off the dock, catching frogs and salamanders, goofing around in the park. No, it’s not a trip to California or some time at the spa. It’s not the complete reno of a home or anything exotic. Ours is a life of simple past times and free fun but it’s a good life none the less and it needs to be seen that way and appreciated before it’s gone.
Lest anyone think the movie is all sad, it’s not. Carl and Russell go on to have a big adventure together and forge a friendship they both need and want. When Russell’s dad doesn’t show for the Wilderness Explorer’s ceremony, Carl steps in and subs for him. Ellie’s adventure album (the one she started as a child) finishes with happy snap shots of Carl and Russel together enjoying simple things – ice cream at Fenton’s, jumping on rocks at the park, chasing their new dog Dug (they picked him up on their amazing adventure together) who in turn is finally getting to chase squirrels. Those are the sorts of things anyone can do. They don’t cost a lot of money and you don’t have to travel far to do them. Those are the moments that make it into the album.