Movie Review: Up

Friday, June 05, 2009

Animation has always fascinated me. When I was a kid in elementary school I could draw with the best of them. I never fully immersed myself in to producing animation but there was always something about the latest Disney releases that would capture my eyes. While my sister would enjoy The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast for its typical Disney formula of girl meets boy, over comes differences and lives happily ever after, a theme as old as Cinderella and Snow White, I was sitting with wide open eyes marveling over the brilliant animation.

Then came the age of CGI. I was torn at first. On one hand I lamented the trend of CGI as it dismantled the glory of hand illustrated frames, but on the other I could not help but be captivated by the smooth lines and realism. Jurassic Park set the tone for the wave of CGI, but Pixar has mastered it with their own flare. Up is their recent claim to fame.

What other company could pull off a storyline regarding an elderly old man that closely resembles Joe Paterno and his house that flies with helium balloons? Naturally the story line is deeper than that.

Carl Frederickson grew up idolizing famed adventurer Charles Muntz. Muntz battled naysayers who refused to credit him for discovering a rare species so Muntz vows to never return from a strange land known as Paradise Falls until he captures the live bird creature. He is never seen again. Young Carl meets the girl of his dreams, Ellie, who also is an admirer of Muntz. The two form a special bond and live a long and happy life together, dreaming of moving to Paradise Falls to spend their lives together in peace.

Ellie though passes on before the elderly couple get a chance to move to their dream home, once again showing that Pixar has no problem illustrating sad and painful scenes for all audiences (some people will tell you that Wall-E was one of the saddest movies, not just animated, in a long time). As Carl faces a law suit that could force him to a retirement home so his house could be leveled in favor of commercial zoning, he takes flight in his house using an incredible amount of balloons. Young Russell, a local wilderness scout looking to do a kind deed for Carl so he can earn his final merit badge, unknowingly to Carl, is standing on the deck of the house as it flies away to Paradise Falls.

Imagine Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson flying away to a strange land and you have Carl and Russell. The boy never intends any harm and Carl wants to ignore the boy as much as possible so he can live in peace. Along the way of course they develop a unique bond as they try to save Carl's house from flying away in the wind as well as try to get it to its final destination before the balloons lose their helium.

Pixar is terrific at telling a good friendship story. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E may be the best. Up though should be included in that same mix. Personally I would not put Up at the top of the list for Pixar movies, but I found it to be very enjoyable. Brilliant animation adds to the most unique story in movies.

Do yourself a favor and go see Up if you have not already. Also, if you get the chance, spend the extra couple dollars where required and watch Up in 3D! It is well worth it.

Movie Info
Up from Disney-Pixar
Directors: Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson
Writer: Bob Peterson
Genre: Animation, Family
Rated: PG
Running time: 96 minutes

Score of 1 to 10: 7.8

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