Based on the Ole Lund Kirkegaard book, Up And Away starts in the small town of Pjort, where the young boy Hodja (Eoin McCormack) dreams of traveling the world. However, his strong-willed, yet caring, father (Lars Ranthe) wishes for Hodja to stay at home and become a tailor’s apprentice; under his father’s tutelage, of course. However, Hodja makes a deal with his neighbor. The neighbor will let the boy borrow his flying carpet if Hodja will find the man’s granddaughter, Diamond.
So, it is off to the capital city of Petto, home of the overfed Sultan (Dermot Magennis). Once there, Hodja runs into street urchin Emerald (Lucy Carolan). She and her orphan friends steal from the markets and people of the city at the behest of the greedy Rat (Marcus Lamb). They do this in exchange for a place to sleep that isn’t an alleyway. The Rat overhears Hodja say the magic words that make the carpet fly and decides to steal the enchanted object. He brings it to the Sultan, who makes Rat the general of the army. Now, Hodja and his new friends must steal the magic carpet back from the Sultan, find Diamond, and make it out of the city alive.
“The neighbor will let the boy borrow his flying carpet if Hodja will find the man’s granddaughter…”
No points for guessing how the father-son tension is resolved, or who Diamond actually is. While Up And Away hits a lot of the expected story beats, the screenplay by Karsten Kiilerich and Vicki Berlin has a lot going for it. For starters, the characters and their motivations are neatly and efficiently laid out, so even the youngest viewers can understand what is happening. More importantly, there is a tremendous amount of fun to be found here.
The direction, also from Kiilerich, uses the freedom from gravity and real-world physics that animation allows to create a kinetic, roving energy. This makes the action scenes, slapstick though they tend to be, very engaging and fun to watch. From an animation standpoint, the movie is decent. The characters move well enough, the backgrounds have texture and create atmosphere, and the whole production looks leagues better than other independently produced animated movies I have seen.
“…a fun, cute movie for children that adults won’t mind watching...”
However, the characters seem to lack weight. The camera does not need to be tethered to the ground, as it does not exist within the movie’s universe; it is solely the mechanism for viewing the presented world. But the populous does need to give the impression that they aren’t going to go floating away at any moment. While the designs and quality of the animation are really good, it hurts the believability of the world being presented that everyone appears as light as a feather.
Up And Away has decent visuals, fine voice acting, and a high sense of fun. The animation quality is better than expected, but the story is predictable, and the budget does crop up in how the characters interact with the world around. All in all, this is a fun, cute movie for children that adults won’t mind watching every once in a while.
Up And Away (2018) Directed by Karsten Kiilerich. Written by Karsten Kiilerich, Vicki Berlin. Starring Eoin McCormack, Lucy Carolan, Dermot Magennis, Marcus Lamb, Lars Ranthe.
7 out of 10 Gummi Bears