It’s been a while since I’ve seen this film. I saw it initially in the theaters when it was first released. It dropped off the planet for a while. After just re-watching it, I thought I would share my reaction.
I’m conflicted about it. On the one hand, I enjoy the film on an emotional level. It’s funny in all the right places (okay, that’s mostly why I enjoy it; the sentimentalism is gaak). On the other hand, the film is bad. Really bad. On the technical, structural level, it is an absolute disaster. It has no direction, no drive, and plot elements go flying in every direction. That’s why I didn’t summarize the story at the start of this review. It’s impossible to do. The film is unfocused and wanders about.
It opens to a nearly fifteen-minute montage of the whirlwind romance between a young boy and a young girl. Okay, so the film’s about them flying off to have an adventure, right? Oh, wait, nope. Their whole lives flash before our eyes, they grow old together, and one passes away. This is a perfect example of introducing the audience to a situation that will not prove to be the actual story. Like starting with a prologue of a character who will die before the end of the prologue. Usually a big no-no.
So, is the story about an old man and a young boy who go off on an adventure in a floating house? Ostensibly you might think so. But as soon as you do, the film reverts to the the existential sentimentalism of the beginning with the introduction of the villain, who is the old man’s childhood hero deconstructed. The comedic atmosphere is there to keep the kids occupied while the real story goes completely over their heads.
At bottom, this is a film about adults. It is a story about growing old, the dying of young dreams and hopes, and the unresolved loss of the passing of a loved one. It is the psychological journey of an old man coming to terms with the death of his wife. Not exactly rousing kid’s film material. Wall-e did the same thing – but then, Wall-e was a far better film. Even Toy Story 3 fell into this same existential, introspective meditation on death and loss. These are lofty, and largely abstract, philosophical films that will be generally missed by children. But, then, I suppose even Ratatouille and Finding Nemo had the same flaws. But with the general downer atmosphere of the film and the script unfocused, the central message quickly becomes interminable.