UpBy Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: PG for some peril and action.
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Release Date: May 29, 2009
Running Time: 1 hour 44 minutes
Plot Synopsis: After a long, loving life with his wife Ellie, widower Carl Friedrickson doesn't have much patience for anything anymore. He doesn't want to deal with the construction workers building high-rises around his house and he doesn't want to be carted off to a nursing home. When a Wilderness Explorer named Russell comes to his door Carl also tries to shoo this newest annoyance away. But this connection is destined to be deeper than he expected when Carl inadvertently brings Russell along on his final big adventure--a house-weighted hot air balloon ride to the South American Paradise Falls.
Sex/Nudity: We see Carl and Elie throughout their married lives together, but it's sweetly romantic, not at all sexual.
Violence/Gore: Carl lashes out at a construction worker, hitting him with his cane. On its journey to South America, the house floats through a scary thunderstorm. There's a fleet of dogs in Paradise Falls, and at times they menace Carl and Russell, barking, chasing and even biting their bird friend, Kevin. The explorer they meet in South America, Charles Muntz sets fire to Carl's house and shoots at our heroes with a gun before he falls off the side of his airship.
Which Kids Will Like It?
The exuberant Russell, the colorful bird Kevin and the loving dog, Dug, should charm children of all ages. However, some of the scenes of peril for our heroes are intense, so very young kids who are easily affected by scary bits might want to stay home.
Will Parents Like It?
The indelible characters and the eye-popping 3D effects should entertain adult audiences as much as their children. Also the clever visual references to old style newsreels should tickle these older viewers.
Kaboose Review: It's practically become a maxim for moviegoers--another Pixar release, another animated classic. But I've noticed in a recent, very unscientific poll that depending on the person they identify different films as the best Pixar. If you fall into the Monsters Inc./Toy Story 2 camp then the company's newest movie, Up should zoom straight to the top of your all time favorite list.
Director, writer and animator Peter Docter worked on all three movies and themes of unlikely friendships, the importance of home and high-stakes adventure run throughout his films. Up is a fantastical journey filled with unusually talented animals and gravity defying modes of transport--but despite the movie's dreamy quality, there's much in the characters' experiences that will be instantly relatable to parents and children alike.
The movie opens with Carl Friedrickson's childhood, when he idolized the international explorer, rare animal finder, and daredevil Charles Muntz (the voice of Christopher Plummer), who has shades of Charles Lindburg and Charles Darwin. Muntz is obsessed with Paradise Falls, a small locale in South America where he claims he discovered a very tall, brightly colored bird.
Young Carl (Jeremy Leary) is also fascinated with Paradise Falls and when he meets Ellie (the voice of Docter's daughter, Elie Docter), a loudmouth young girl, he discovers she's a Muntz fan too. Ellie and Carl grow up, marry and live a long, happy life together though they never do make that trip to South America. Now that Ellie is gone, Carl (Ed Asner) vows to take her on that adventure, in the form of the house they lived in together.
A former balloon salesman, he rigs the house with an enormous bouquet of balloons and sails off. The only problem, a young boy named Russell (Jordan Nagai) was on the porch when the house took off. Through a massive thunderstorm, Russell and Carl pilot the house south, coincidentally ending up very near to the Falls, though not quite. Now all they need to do is walk the slowly deflating house over to the outlook above the falls. Along the way they meet one of Muntz's fabled birds, which Russell names Kevin, a dog called Dug (Bob Peterson) who speaks through a miraculous talking dog collar and the mysterious Muntz himself. Turns out he's been living in Paradise Falls all this time trying to find another bird specimen he can bring back to the States.
The voice talent in Up is spot on, from gruff Ed Asner as the adult Carl to the film's co-director and writer Bob Peterson doing the voice of loving but easily distracted puppy, Dug. The plot meanders from one fantastical vignette after another, but if you don't get too caught up in particulars like "how could a bunch of balloons lift a house off of its foundation, let alone fly to South America" and "how are those dogs flying fighter jets," much of the movie is utterly charming. Also the growing connection between Carl and Russell is incredibly sweet and poignant. It might even make a few parents a little misty eyed.
Directed by: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
Cast: Edward Asner (voice of Carl Fredrickson), Jordan Nagai (voice of Russell), Bob Peterson (voice of Dug, Alpha), Elie Docter (voice of young Ellie), Jeremy Leary (voice of young Carl) Christopher Plummer (voice of Charles Muntz), John Ratzenberger (voice of Construction Foreman Tom), Delroy Lindo (voice of Beta)
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.