This movie came out a long time ago, but when Ballerball came to me requesting that I review a film, they told me it could be any one that I want. And I wants this one. I wants it bad. I wants it like Earl Watson wants some Skittles. You don’t get that joke, probably. Mainly because it’s an inside one, but dude was always asking for some Skittles. Got to be a real problem after awhile. He’d leave the locker room at halftime in search of them. He once fed Skittles to a dog he had. It was this super good looking labradoodle he’d named Big Al. Dog died of malnourishment in three months.
Firstly, as is the review rule, there will be no spoilers here. I know the movie has been out for a good handful of years and, yes, I know that anyone who hasn’t seen it is, for all intents and most every purpose, completely dead inside, but let’s be inclusive and not exclusive. Let’s join in hands under the warm sun and think on the importance of living life large and treating people kindly.
The movie centers around Carl, an old, upset, crabby man who’s getting forced out of his home by some big wig in sunglasses and a hard hat after he accidentally smacks a construction worker in the face with his walking stick. Joining Carl on this helium driveb journey up into the skies is Russell, a young Wilderness Scout who really wants to get his “Helping the elderly” badge in any way he can. Carl’s all ‘screw this kid I don’t want to see you’ about it, but Russell is about that grind. Relentless and relentlessly positive, that’s Russ’ game. Carl reminds me of old Coach Sloan. I don’t know who Russ reminds me of. Maybe Millsap? Maybe.
So, Carl’s wife, Ellie, dies at the beginning of the movie after pretty much the saddest montage of dialogue-free scenes in film history. She starts to have trouble walking up this hill they used to always walk up. It’s really sad. I don’t know. Makes me feel bad to talk about it. Like, I don’t like it when nice, smiling people die. And Ellie seems like she was really chill. I see why Carl loved her. They both liked just sitting in their chairs and that’s my favorite thing to do. I feel like they get me. Ah, man. Getting misty.
But yea. I was backtracking some. Carl decides, instead of getting forced into this nursing home, he’s going to bail. He’s been working at a zoo for his whole life blowing up balloons, working one of those souvenir carts you see at some places. He has access to a ton of these helium balloons and he ties them all to his house and it floats away right when the nursing home guys show up to take him away. It’s a cartoon, guys.
While he’s in the sky, just as he’s getting comfortable in this chair he’s got that he also loves, he hears a knock at the door and realizes Russell was out on the porch when he took off. Russ was still pounding pavement, trying to get that badge however he could. Carl lets him in because, you know, that’s highly unsafe, and now it’s a two person party in a house in the sky.
Anyways, they have this sick adventure where they learn about each other and learn about sacrifice and how important it is to love one another and have each other’s backs. Russ softens up Carl’s hard exterior and he’s better for it. They meet this talking dog named Doug who loves squirrels and them and this big tropical bird named Kevin. Some messy stuff goes down with this mustachioed dude that Carl used to idolize but I won’t go into that because, again, this is a spoiler free Wednesday. I will say, though, in my research to complete this review I found out mustache bro who does the voice is none other than Christopher Plummer. That’s right. Captain Von Trapp. Speaking of getting teary eyed. “Edelweiss” really gets the water falling.
Initially they’re trying to get to the top of this cliff that neighbors this waterfall called Paradise Falls. It’s big and pretty and stuff. Carl and his lady, Ellie, used to always talk about moving there one day. But then things change after Carl gets pissed at Russ. He’s all ‘no, dude, I don’t care about you and I’m staying here’ and Russ is all ‘but we need to help Kev’. Can’t tell you why they need to help him, though. NO SPOILERZ.
Carl’s being all hard about it until he opens this scrapbook that him and Ellie had put together about their adventurers. At the back, in a space he hadn’t yet seen, is Ellie’s writing imploring him to go make new adventurers. It’s so sweet, you guys. I cry every time. I shed happy tears with the same prolific power that I shed sad tears after I missed that shot against Duke at the buzzer. It’s just a real, true moment in cinematic history.
It was nice to be able to watch it and put fingers to keys to let the world know how I felt about the movie. I’m here at the Team USA mini-camp and everyone’s taking it so serious and people are hearing the whispers from Colangelo and Coach K that I’m playing well and all that, but there’s so many more important things out there that are bigger than basketball. Friends. Adventures. Love.
The movie itself strikes the balance that Pixar does so well. It’s equal parts sweet, sad, and funny. Kind of like life is.
*This wasn’t written by Gordon Hayward. Be so cool if it was, though.