Pixar’s “Up” Will Send Your Imagination Soaring

Lynne Carty

Pixar's 10th film hits theaters May 29th. Now playing everywhere

  Just when we all thought Pixar had finally reached their creative peak in animation, they prove us wrong. Somehow this studio has raised the bar yet again, setting a new and even higher standard in the their latest masterpiece: “Up”. Visually stunning and a treat for moviegoers of all ages, “Up” (directed by “Monsters Inc.”’s Pete Docter) is not only good, it’s one of Pixar’s best yet.

   In essence, “Up” is the story of 78-year old widower Carl Fredricksen who, when being forced to move into an assisted living home, ties thousands of balloons to his home and lifts off in hopes of realizing his and his late wife’s dream of traveling to the legendary “Paradise Falls” in South America like their childhood hero Charles Muntz did. Soon after takeoff, Carl’s elation is interrupted as he discovers that Russell, a chubby and eager “Junior Wilderness Explorer”, has inadvertently stowed away on his balloon-powered aircraft in hopes of earning his “assisting the elderly” badge. Once Carl grudgingly welcomes Russell inside his flying home, the two embark on a tale of adventure and laughs that easily put “Up” on the same level as Pixar’s most beloved films.

   As we have come to expect from all things Pixar, the sound, picture, and plotline are all exceptional. However, what makes “Up” seem to stand out from the rest is its emotional depth. No matter what age you are, this film has the power to fog up your 3D glasses with bittersweet tears in one scene, only to make you burst out laughing at the next. The most moving and emotional part by far is a montage only about 5 minutes into the movie, where Carl and his love Ellie are shown growing up together, falling in love, getting married, and growing old. Using very little dialogue, well-chosen visuals combine with Michael Giacchino’s plaintive score to make you really feel empathy for this poor, pudgy old man. Watching this magical sequence, you can literally feel both Carl’s joy and devastation, which helps in understanding where he’s coming from with his actions later on in the movie. 

   Like Carl, all of the characters in “Up” are irresistibly funny, loveable, and well explored. Carl’s partner in crime, Russell (voiced by newcomer Jordan Nagai) has the just the right amount of annoyance to be funny, but just enough tenderness to be endearing. Bob Peterson’s voicing of the group’s dog and friend Dug is also hysterical and sure to be a favorite character for all dog owners. Even Kevin the bird, who didn’t have a single line of dialog in the entire film, was hysterical. It’s actually pretty hard to find a solid criticism for this movie. If there is one fault, it’s that the story’s villain, Muntz, was a bit one-dimensional: there was nothing particularly original or interesting about his character. In the battle of Pixar’s greatest villains, “The Incredibles” would definitely one-up this movie here but, overall, Muntz was adequate enough and served his purpose in the film’s storyline.

   Most who decline seeing “Up” will do so because they think Pixar makes movies solely for kids. But Pixar doesn’t make films for kids, they create films that are kid-friendly – there’s a huge difference. The comedy in “Up” is smart and clever enough for adults to enjoy, while still being cute and funny for the younger audiences. “Up” is that rare breed of a family film that speaks to anyone and everyone, the kind that will take you through the full emotional spectrum and send your spirits and imagination soaring.