Pixar Theory: Is Carl Fredricksen Crazy?
Could the events of 'Up' all be a figment of Carl's imagination?
How many balloons does it actually take to lift up a house into the air and fly it all the way to South America? Well, according to several studies, it should have actually taken anywhere from 100,000 to 23 million balloons to lift the house to the air.
But when Carl Fredricksen amazed us all when he lifted his house with balloons, we should have all been amazed at how scientifically inaccurate it all was.
Yeah, you heard me right, Granny. This isn't a physics lesson, though, and I am not a science teacher. I'm just an average student with a passion for writing, theorizing, and movies, and here's a pretty plausible fan theory about Up.
What if Carl never actually went to South America? What if he simply imagined the entire thing? You probably hate me for saying this, but Jon Carlin from the SuperCarlinBrothers has come up with a great theory that I think works out pretty well, and I will leave his video at the end of this article.
So, we start off this theory with that scene in Up where Carl assaults a man with his cane.
This is assault and battery as the man is later seen with blood on his forehead. And we later see Carl in a courtroom.
And they sentence him to...a nursing home?
Doesn't it seem strange that this old man has committed second degree assault and battery and his sentence is a nursing home? I mean, he should honestly just receive a jail sentence or something like that. But a nursing home is not legitimate.
So, Carl actually was sentenced to a prison. And when this happened, he had lost everything. He lost his wife, his freedom, and now, he loses his mental health.
What Carl then does next is absolutely impossible: he lifts up his house with balloons.
Well, first off, that would mean he was a really bad balloon salesman. Second, according to production notes from the film, they animated about 10,297 balloons to make the house float. So, in one night, we're expected to believe Carl had the stamina and physical ability to fill that many balloons with helium?
He can't even walk down the stairs without his machine.
And not only that, but lifting a house with 10,297 balloons is not possible. Up co-director Pete Docter told Ballooning magazine that technicians at Pixar estimated it would take 23.5 million party balloons to lift a 1,800-square-foot house like Carl's.
The most balloons you saw in the film was over 20,622 when the house first took off, but 10,297 was the number for the other scenes.
And then, when he is on his way there, he finds a child on his doorstep.
He and Ellie never got to have children in their lives, and this crazy dream sequence (or you can call it heaven if you want) is giving him everything that he didn't have before.
Carl and Ellie grew up loving adventurers and exploring and this kid shows up at the door, who loves adventuring and exploring and would be an ideal, perfect child for Carl and Ellie.
But that's not the main reason why I don't believe Russell really exists. See, Russell said that he saw a snipe (a type of bird) and chased it under his porch. However, that was when Carl lifted up his house and he remained on the house.
However, he is nowhere to be seen on the house when Carl lifted it up.
And also, I don't see how it would be possible to get under that porch, and when he noticed the house lifting up, why would his immediate response be to grab on? It doesn't make sense, and therefore, Carl's mind is simply creating this vision for him.
The only kid that gets into Carl's house is the kid that somehow knows how to get from the United States to South America, navigating with a house he's not familiar with steering.
And this isn't the only thing in the movie that doesn't make sense.
There is a scene in which Carl tries to drop Russell into the street by suspending him with a rope while about six stories off the ground. Carl then drops Russell into the street by accident, but in the next scene, he shows up in Carl's house again, completely unharmed without a single scratch.
It was a funny scene, but it could not realistically happen, so this is what Carl's mind is creating for him.
And we also have the character of Kevin.
Here is how Kevin connects to Carl: when we first meet Ellie as a child, we can't really tell whether or not she is a male or female. I remember watching the film in theaters eight years ago and not knowing this.
Russell names the bird Kevin (a male name), but we find out at the end of the movie that she is a female, as she gives birth.
And not only that, but Kevin's colors resemble the house he grew up with Ellie in, which he had just lost.
To add on, Kevin can have kids, but Ellie had a miscarriage.
And right when Carl lands in Paradise Falls, he meets his childhood hero: Charles Muntz.
But this is unlikely. Carl grew up idolizing Muntz, overlooking his flaws, and exaggerating his accomplishments. Muntz is 92-years-old during the main events of the film and though there are people who live up to 92-years-old, he cannot be this impressive.
He is living in the jungle with no healthcare, no way to treat any possible diseases, and not a lot of food.
He has also been there since 1934 and for 68 years, so I can only imagine how he was able to live this long and seem so healthy.
And there is also the fact that when Carl points out a skeleton of a giant Somalian leopard tortoise, Muntz says, "I found it on safari with Roosevelt. Got into a habit of playing gin rummy with him in the evenings. Oh, did he cheat."
There are two likely Roosevelts that he was talking about: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt.
Now, Theodore Roosevelt wouldn't really make sense because Muntz was born in 1911 and Roosevelt died in 1919. That would mean that the oldest he could have been while hanging out with Roosevelt is eight-years-old and apparently, Roosevelt was going on safari and cheating at gin rummy games with eight-year-old kids?
So, that's unlikely. We should assume that Muntz was doing this with another adult, so Franklin D. Roosevelt would make more sense given the time they were alive and the gin rummy games also made sense. But FDR was diagnosed with polio and was wheelchair-bound.
And that makes it unlikely for someone in a wheelchair to be going on safari with Muntz.
This means Carl was either insane, or, as other theories have said, he could have died and this may simply be his ascent to heaven. But one thing for sure, Russell, Kevin, and Dug are all just in his imagination.
So, that's the theory. These are the sources I used to write this article here: