This digital animation about a father and son mortician who go to Hell and back (literally) to deliver a casket had me conflicted. For every unique moment, there’s another that’s been pulled right off the cliché shelf. Just as the story piques my interest, it takes a turn down a yawnable direction. And when you get right down to it, the characters just aren’t that likable (other than the dead lady in the casket). I was surprised to learn This Way Up had stolen audience favorite awards at some top animation festivals (Ottawa and Palm Springs).
The visual style, though beautiful at times, is also rather clunky. There are times when movements seem awkward and I’m pulled out of the not-so-carefully constructed world of the film. I was even more disappointed after learning the film was created by the impressive Smith & Foulkes of Nexus Productions who also created the well-loved story within a story closing credits of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Overall, due to a lack of an engaging story, consistency and plain outright entertainment value, This Way Up leaves plenty more to be desired. I see this film as a great story pitch that was rushed to production.