“This Way Up” – 2009 Academy Award nominated animated short – is adorable. On just another day at the office, a pair of father-son undertakers head out to collect the body of what appears to have been a very sweet – very old – little lady. A string of disastrous Rube Goldberg cause and effects intervene, and the undertakers are confronted with multiple challenges. But these two skeletal men are determined to get the job done right.
The film is created with computer animation drawn with strong, wood carving-like, angles. Each detail is meticulously well thought out, from the crumpling of the undertakers’ hats to the petals on a rose. Each tiny movement is a delight.
Likewise, the music is determined to make you smile. With bouncing tubas and blaring trumpets, I find myself searching mp3 blogs for a soundtrack to download.
But the film isn’t just a bubbling piece of adorable animated fodder. Amidst Tom and Jerry inspired sequences, there are also references to Greek mythology (the undertakers navigate the River Styx and climb a mountain out of the underworld). The colors used – mostly shades of gray and bright red – are stunning.
This is the rare bit of animation that is just as concerned with writing as it is with image. It deserves every bit of its Oscar nomination.