A week ago I wrote a post about how the Weinstein Company supposedly tampered with the trailer for The Road, in order to "help" the film - which is essentially a meditative look at the bond between a father and son traveling across the ruins of America - reach a (supposedly) wider audience.
The post caused a tiny stir and even inspired a response post from Alex Billington over at First Showing, who claimed (echoing the sentiment of many readers) that I was crying foul about something that is by now a banal topic: Hollywood using bait-and-switch advertising to lure us into theaters under false pretenses.
Well, this week I find myself "crying foul" about bait-and-switch advertising once again, this time in reference to a movie I actually saw and loved. I'm talking about Disney/Pixar's wonderful new film, UP.
[WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS CONTAIN SPOILERS ABOUT THE PLOT OF UP]
If you've read my review of UP, then you already know that my overall opinion of the film is that it offers a surprisingly mature (and moving) look at the nature of grief and loss and how we climb back from those crushing emotions. Of course being a Pixar film, that serious undertone is dressed up as a fantastic adventure about a widower who ties a bunch of balloons to his house and flies off to explore South America. However, as I confessed in my review (and many other readers seconded) many key scenes of UP are so wrenchingly powerful, sad even, that you can't help but be moved to tears. The film really urges you to take stock of your life and (if you're lucky) the love in it, and (arguably) sends you away with a new appreciation for both.
While that kind of emotional resonance is a phenomenal accomplishment for an animated film (UP is clearly worthy of a Best Picture nomination, IMHO), it's not so easy for the kids to digest. Sure, there are some silly talking dogs and a juvenile comedic foil thrown in there for the kids to enjoy and laugh at, but at its core, UP tells a very adult story.
That isn't just my opinion, either. If you check out the comment thread on my UP review you'll see several instances of parents complaining that the film made for a bad experience for them and their children. A couple of parents even went as far as to say they had to leave the theater at the behest of their melancholy children. My first reaction to these parents was "That's YOUR fault: Do your homework before you take your kids to a movie; never assume something is going to be OK for them just because it has a familiar brand name slapped on it." And, truth be told, I was good with that response. I stood by it.
Flash-forward to last night: I'm sitting on my couch catching up on some summer TV when all of a sudden I catch a TV spot for UP - one of those "UP is the number one movie in America!" spots where they flash you all the names of critics and publications that have praised the film. Imagine my shock: Of all fancy names they flashed (New York Times, USA Today, Time, etc...), only one critic (Hollywood.com's Pete Hammond) was quoted - and then, only quoted for one word out of his entire review: "Hilarious."
I nearly fell off the couch.