What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Upside Down is a sci-fi romance set on another world. Violence is the biggest issue, though it's still fairly light: Expect a few shootouts, minor injuries, and a character being abducted and beaten up off screen. A dead body is also shown in an early scene, and a character tells how he was orphaned due to an explosion at an oil plant. Main characters kiss, and it's implied that they have sex (the woman becomes pregnant). There's no language other than one use of "God" and a middle finger gesture. A central character smokes a cigar. While the movie's visuals are impressive, the storytelling is subpar, so it's likely that only the most die-hard teen sci-fi fans will be able to enjoy the film.
What's the story?
Adam (Jim Sturgess) lives in an alternate universe in which the lower class walks right-side-up on the ground, and the upper class walks upside down on a kind of island in the sky. The two lands are linked by a huge corporate building where everyone works. Otherwise, any connection between the two worlds causes things to burn. As a boy, Adam met and fell in love with a girl from above. But now, as an adult, the grown-up Eden (Kirsten Dunst) has amnesia and doesn't remember him. Adam cooks up a complex scheme to get a job in the big building and woo her again. Meanwhile, a special kind of pink bee pollen is the only thing that connects the two worlds -- and could be the answer to all of Adam's problems.
Is it any good?
Award-winning Argentinean short film director Juan Solanas' English-language feature debut will surely wow audiences with awesome visuals, but floor them with terrible storytelling. The movie begins with the hero (Jim Sturgess) explaining the rules of the universe to us and then spends the next 98 minutes trying to avoid and/or ignore those rules. It can make a viewer's head spin trying to ask questions about how and why anything works.
If, somehow, viewers can forgive and get beyond the flimsy rules of this sci-fi universe, then they have the icky, overcooked romance to contend with. The exchanges between the two main characters are cringe inducing. Worse than failing to generate chemistry, it's a wonder how the one-dimensional Eden would ever look twice at the weird, creepy Adam (Sturgess' performance is irritatingly unbalanced). By the time the final narration kicks in, it's hard not to groan.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Upside Down's violence. How much of it was necessary to tell the story?
How would a world evolve in which one group was considered "better" than another group? Can you think of any other stories or real-life examples with this same theme?
What questions would you ask a scientist about how the Upside Down world works?
Was Adam's quest for love selfish or selfless?