The 40-minute Seven Up! introduces the kids briefly, then promptly ends. The films that would follow: 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, and finally 42 Up, duly check in with our kids to see where they've gotten to in life. (All six films are now available on a box set DVD edition.) But the problem with the Up series is that nothing changes in the lives of these kids year after year. They get older, and as expected their dreams of being movie stars and astronauts fade into more recognizable realities. And maybe this is part of the momentum of the British class system -- but no one dramatically leaps out of poverty, and no wealthy children ever fall from lofty heights. (Perhaps this series would have been more interesting if made in a more socially fluid country?)
As such, the lessons of the Up series -- and the films get longer and longer with each installment -- are few. As I've said in individual reviews of the later films, the poor stay poor, the rich get rich. Apted proves it handily, but his message is repetitive to a fault. Over the course of 500-some minutes of footage, few surprises await. And in fact, you only need to see the most recent of the movies if you want the full experience of the series, since Apted recaps everything that's come to pass before.
Social navel-gazers will find some of this interesting, but most of the films just don't truly offer the meat they claim to contain. Either that, or I'm just really jaded.
Aka 7 Up.
Run time: 39 mins
In Theaters: Tuesday 5th May 1964
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
IMDB: 8.1 / 10
Director: Michael Apted
Producer: Michael Apted
Screenwriter: Michael Apted
Also starring: Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, Suzanne Dewey, Nicholas Hitchon, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Susan Sullivan, Tony Walker, Michael Apted