The thing about Pixar, is they have raised the bar for themselves. When you go to a Pixar movie, you expect that it’s going to be awesome. That it needs to be. If not, you’re going to be disappointed. Well, guess what? “Up” is indeed fantastic.
By tying thousands of balloon to his home, 78-year-old widower Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) sets out to fulfill his and his late wife’s lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America. Of course there is a little stowaway, a boy scout who was just trying to earn a merit badge.
The thing I love most about Pixar movies is that they never condescend and say “kids won’t get this” or “this is too dark for kids.” The same philosophy of Walt Disney, back in the day. They just make compelling stories with great characters. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But that’s part of the Pixar magic. They make it look simple, but what you’re really getting is a bit more complicated, like “The Incredibles” or “The Iron Giant” (non-Pixar, but Brad Bird directed) This is evident in the beginning when we see Carl meet his wife, Ellie, when they were just children. We see the highlights of his life up to that point and we see it with no dialogue. Just a very effective musical montage.
I actually think this was one of Pixar’s best films. “Wall-E” was great but “Ratatouille” and “Cars” bored me. They were OK, even mediocre Pixar movies are still miles above whatever anyone else is doing, but still you want that feeling of good old fashioned entertainment washing over you in big, animated fun-goo. Luckily, “Up” has fun-goo aplenty. I really liked this movie. It had some nice unexpected surprises along with some fun visuals and a few thrills, especially in 3-D. Also, see if you can find the “Star Wars” Easter egg in the movie. Here’s a hint: Biplanes and Dogs. Nerd hunt!
The theme of “It’s never too late to start a journey” is warm and satisfying, like a homemade brownie fresh from the oven. Hmmm, there’s an idea…. Movie Themed brownies… I’ll start a new LA trend. I’ll have the White Chocolate and never give up on yourself hazelnut gift pack, please…
The only thing I think fell a little flat was the bird obsessed, dog loving villain. He really seemed shoe-horned into the story. But his henchmen, or henchdogs, were great. I loved the fact that the movie’s main protagonist and antagonist were old men. The kid and animals were supporting characters. In animation you can do anything. I think it’s really cool that when you can do anything they picked old men and made it work.
“Up” is indeed uplifting, funny, poignant and even sentimental, and never feels forced or contrived. Considering this is an animated movie about an old guy, a boy scout, a floating house and talking dogs, it’s quite an achievement. What I can’t understand is why other animation studios keep churning out garbage like “Shrek 3” and “Madagascar” sequels when Pixar seems to have no problem churning out quality entertainment on a regular basis. The bar has been raised, jerks. Learn to respect the bar, or at least try and find it.