(directors/writers: Pete Docter/Bob Peterson; screenwriters: based on a story by Mr. Docter, Mr. Peterson and Tom McCarthy; cinematographer: Jean-Claude Kalache Patrick Lin; editor: Kevin Nolting; music: Michael Giacchino; cast: The voices of: Ed Asner (Carl Fredricksen), Christopher Plummer (Charles Muntz), Jordan Nagai (Russell), Bob Peterson (Dug/Alpha), Delroy Lindo (Beta), Jerome Ranft (Gamma), John Ratzenberger (Construction Foreman Tom), Elie Docter (Young Ellie); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Jonas Rivera; Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios; 2009)
“A solid Disney adventure feature animation using Pixar.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A solid Disney adventure feature animation using Pixar (Disney’s tenth time it used Pixar), as directed and written in a buoyant way by Bob Peterson and Pete Docter (“Monster Inc.”). Some theaters are showing Up in 3-D. Up was the first animated feature ever to open the Cannes Film Festival. It aims to tell us that a love story is as good as any adventure.
The stubborn and cranky 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen refuses to go to an old age home or sell his house to developers after he’s mourning the recent death of his loving wife Ellie. The former balloon salesman and his wife, a childless couple, were frustrated adventurers who dreamed ever since their Depression-era romance began of some day escaping to Paradise Falls in South America to live by a waterfall. Their mutual hero was the disgraced explorer Charles Muntz, whose reputation was ruined when his skeleton of a large and rare bird was declared to be fake and he vowed to return to Paradise Falls in his dirigible and bring the bird back home to prove it was real.
The innovative Carl ties thousands of helium balloons to his creaky fixer-upper wooden house and soon he and his home are soaring in the air for South America. But Carl doesn’t realize there’s a stowaway aboard: a pudgy enthusiastic eight-year-old named Russell. He’s a Junior Wilderness Explorer, in need of a father figure, who tried to help Carl so he can earn his Assisting-the-Elderly merit badge and thereby qualify to be a Senior Wilderness Explorer.
Once landing in Paradise Falls the daring adventurers meet the giant 12-foot bird with colorful plumage and the kid lures it with chocolates and names it Kevin, not realizing it’s a female. They also have a talking dog named Dug tag along. When the deranged Muntz meets the two adventurers (proving childhood heroes might not always be what imagined), he soon believes that they came like some others to steal the large bird he never located and he sics on them a pack of attack dogs with electronic collars that enable them to talk.
Up is a romantic cartoon with adult sensibilities that pays homage to Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, as the old man is a dreamer who is willing to face all kinds of dangers to fulfill a lifetime dream he had put on hold. Its best asset is that it makes us care for the lonely widow, and does so immediately with a brilliantly touching opening earthbound scene showing how the childhood lovers met and grew old together in a warm and caring way; its least appealing asset is when it soars into fanciful escapism and loses some of its early charm with fighting scenes that seem of all things cartoonish and less interesting than other parts of the film.
REVIEWED ON 6/3/2009 GRADE: B