By Dave Campbell | June 9, 2009
Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson (co-director)
Writer(s): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter (Screenplay) | Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Thomas McCarthy (Story)
Starring: Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, Jerome Ranft, John Ratzenberger, Elie Docter
UP begins with Carl Fredricksen as a quiet young boy fascinated with famed explorer Charles F. Muntz. He meets a girl named Ellie who shares the exact same interests. Ellie dreams of one day going to Paradise Falls in South America where their idol, Charles Muntz made scientifically debated discoveries of an unknown bird species. Carl makes a promise to Ellie that they will one day visit Paradise Falls and fulfill their childhood dreams. Carl and Ellie wed and grow old together in the very house where they first met. Carl makes his living as a balloon vendor and guide at a local theme park. Unable to have children, they try saving up for the trip to Paradise Falls but other obligations arise as the years go by. Just when they seem to finally be able to take their trip, Ellie passes of old age. This causes Carl to become somewhat of a sour recluse who wants to be left alone as his golden years pass.
The city continues to grow around Carl and his house as developers aggressively peruse his property. Carl refuses at every turn until an altercation with a construction worker over Carl’s broken mailbox leads to a court order forcing Carl to move into Shady Oaks Retirement Home. Carl comes up with a plan to keep his promise with Ellie, and uses his old balloon supplies to create a makeshift airship using thousands of helium balloons to lift his house off the foundation. Carl unwittingly takes a chubby eight-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell with him. Russell has been hanging around Carl’s house in attempt to earn his “Assisting the Elderly” badge, but has stowed away on the porch after being sent on a snipe hunt by Carl the day before. The two opposites match up for adventure as they encounter great personal obstacles and gain lasting new friendships.
UP is the first animated film to premiere at Cannes, and it kicked off the 2009 Film Festival. It’s the second film from award winning director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) who has been with Pixar for 19 of his 40 years. Edward Asner (Carl Fredricksen), Jordan Nagai (Russell), Bob Peterson (Dug/Alpha), Christopher Plummer (Charles F. Muntz), Delroy Lindo (Beta), Jerome RanftGamma), and John Ratzenberger (Tom) lend impressivly natural voice talent to their respective roles with seemless characterization.
Pixar is the studio that can’t seem to go wrong. Everything they do is hailed by critics and ticket holders alike. Eye candy and great story telling are a staple of Pixar Animation Studios, and something that they have built their solid reputation on. This time they strike more emotional chords than ever. With UP we are given a standard of what films for the whole family should be. They give us something more touching and with more character depth than most of the live-action dramas of recent memory. This successful Pixar formula of quality continues and excels with the tale of UP.
I was lucky enough to see UP in Disney Digital 3D with my 7 & 9 year-old stepsons. Though the 3D does add additional depth perception and visual scale on landscaping shots, the film is beautiful enough to soar without that additional element. UP presents us with more than just great animation and hilarious adventure by exploring deep issues and situations in the lives of its characters. Supported with rich emotional development (queue several misty eyed moments), UP transcends demographic walls. Whether you take your kindergartner, a hot date, or your 95 year old grandma, UP is something that will satisfy any human with a beating heart.