Sunday, May 31, 2009


UP (A-)

As has been the case with every Pixar movie I have ever seen, I walked out of the theater more than satisfied. The animation giant strikes again with its newest adventure called UP. Movie goers have the option of viewing a 2-D or 3-D version of the latest installment in the Pixar franchise. I went for the 2-D because I just wanted to see the film; and I think 3-D is highly overrated and overpriced.

UP begins with two young children aspiring to be explorers named Carl and Ellie. They are looking to follow the footsteps of their hero Charles Muntz by exploring the uncharted territory in South America. Carl promises Ellie he will bring her on this grand adventure someday, and they quickly become best friends. They fit together like Scarlett Johansson and tight clothes, (which is amazing!) and as they grow up, get married. A brief montage-like summary of their life gives the audience a real sense of their strong relationship and love for one another. Pixar keeps it creative like always with an interesting time lapse to age Carl and Ellie from young to old.

Ellie passes away as an elderly woman, and Carl is left on his own. With his house to be demolished to make way for new buildings Carl is forced to move to a retirement home. The evening before his departure to elderly care, Carl attaches an obscene amount of balloons to float his house to South America on the adventure he once promised he would take Ellie on.

Once in the air, Carl realizes that a Junior Wilderness Explorer named Russell was on the house porch upon liftoff. Together they navigate to a mysterious part of the South American wilderness where they discover new creatures, talking dogs, and they are not the only explorers to discover this territory.

As always Pixar chooses its most important characters, in this instance Carl and Russell, and develops them thoroughly. Carl being the a cynical and lonesome old man is not very fond of Russell's can-do and curious attitude initially. As they adventure together Carl and Russell grow to like each other, and that makes this developing story as good as it is.

The script by Bob Peterson (also wrote Finding Nemo) was very well written, and featured some heavy adult themes not common in Pixar stories like: a mother miscarrying, a young boy minus parents, and even dealing with the death of a loved one. While viewing UP I heard a lot of kids asking their parents questions about the darker elements of the story they didn't understand. (those little bastards talk the whole movie!) Not what you come to expect out of Disney or Pixar.

Some of these darker elements provide good foundation for the two main characters Carl and Russel. Their wild adventure and bizarre experiences draw them closer like a father and son. The script also features recurring themes or lines that tie the story together nicely. The film used great dialogue, hilarious supporting characters (the talking dogs), and a great story line to tell this marvelous adventure.

The film was directed by Pete Docter who also directed another Pixar success Monsters Inc. Even though UP is completely animated; Pete used his skills and animation experience to create great looking shots for each scene.

The cast features many recognizable Hollywood faces, but obviously all we hear are their voices. The main character Carl is voiced by legendary Ed Asner. Other big names in UP feature: Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, and Delroy Lindo.

Overall, Pixar has not missed yet. This is their most bold project yet, but not their best. The only reason this film doesn't score higher for me is because it's hard to say UP is better than other Pixar gold mines like personal favorites such as: Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Monsters Inc., and Toy Story. UP is a fun adventure with strong characters that will keep you entertained for its duration. You definitely do not need to be a kid to appreciate this film, especially if you are a Pixar fan. UP was rightfully number 1 at the box office this weekend, and Disney and Pixar deserve your money. Now the only decision left is whether you want 2-D, or 3-D.

Make sure you don't miss the traditional Pixar animated short before the feature presentation, it is so darn cute... yep, cute.


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