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A 2009 Pixar Studios movie

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What ever happens to a dream deferred?

  • Jan 4, 2010
Up is similar to most Disney/Pixar films in that it is enjoyable for people of all ages. It has humor, but it also explores themes such as love and loss, parental neglect, the pursuit (and letting go) of childhood dreams, and even inferiority and the bullying that can take place within a group (as portrayed by Dug, a dog who is seen as one of the lower-ranking members of his pack). While several Disney/Pixar films contain more mature themes (Finding Nemo demonstrates the dedication that a parent feels toward their child, Wall-E provides a chilling glimpse of Earth's potential environmental outcome, etc.), Up contains several such themes, and so many parents have found the film to be "inappropriate" for children. While I don't see a problem with it, because these are things that a child will eventually experience, and we can't force children to watch Sesame Street and Blue's Clues forever, I felt that I should at least mention it.

The animation in Up is top-notch, as is usually the case with Disney/Pixar films. The scene where the thousands of balloons that Carl uses to fly to South America are released from his roof was especially stunning to watch. Up makes use of bright colors and and fascinating scenery, such as vast jungles and quaint homes, but I will confess that I didn't pay much attention to the animation; the film's characters, dialogue, and story demanded more of my attention.

The one thing that always stands out to me when I think of Disney/Pixar films is the character development. Disney/Pixar never ceases to bring to life characters that are at once interesting and realistic, and there is usually at least one that provides some sort of comic relief. Up is no exception. For example, the eight-year-old Russell is adorable and funny, yet he is troubled by the fact that his father continually avoids spending time with him. The fact that such an entertaining character also has real problems and experiences emotions other than incessant happiness (as is often the case with several one-sided children's-film characters) makes the character all the more believable, and I think that this makes for a much more satisfying film overall. The viewer comes to sympathize with all of the characters (with the exception of the villains) for this very reason, I believe. We are shown several different sides of each character, and I'm sure that almost everyone can find someone or something to identify with that mirrors their own self.

The only real problems that I had with the film were the film's soundtrack and its plot. I cannot recall a single song that was played during the film, or if there were even any pieces played at all. In short, the film's music is not very memorable. As for the film's plot, I found it to be very strange, and several things did not make much sense. For example, the film's main villain, Charles F. Muntz, is in search of a thirteen-foot-tall bird after scientists claimed that his discovery of the skeleton of such a bird was declared a hoax, and so in order to complete his quest, Muntz has obtained for himself the help of close to a hundred dogs, all of which have been given a device that translates their thoughts into spoken words. Muntz and his army of pooches search for the elusive bird with the use of a large zeppelin, or blimp. Firstly, I don't know where Muntz obtained all of these dogs, nor do I know how he is able to feed all of them, being inside of an airborne blimp. Either he had a ridiculously large store of dog food, or he forced the dogs to catch their own food while searching the wilderness for the aforementioned bird. Also, I don't see how the dog-talking device could possibly work. No explanation is really ever given, but it seems that whatever the dogs think is translated into audible words. I doubt that dogs (or any other non-human animal) actually thinks in words, so I can't see how this device could translate their thoughts, because I don't see what the device could be translating from. I also don't know for certain if thousands of helium-filled ballons could actually lift a house, but I find it to be rather impossible, not to mention that houses are built on foundations, and so you can't just go lifting up houses whenever you feel like it, not to mention how incredibly unlikely it is that the house would, in the end, land exactly where Carl had wanted it to. Usually, such plot implausibilies would not bother me, but because they are so pertinent to the film's plot, and because they keep popping up throughout the film, they become extremely distracting.

Overall, I enjoyed Up because it mixed clever humor with real-life situations that made for a film that can appeal to individuals of any age-group. While the soundtrack was lackluster and the plot-holes distracted from the film's messages at times, the solid animation and voice-acting, as well as the immensely likeable and believable characters, made Up into a beautiful tale of a bitter old man's last attempt at achieving he and his late loved-one's childhood-dream.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes

What ever happens to a dream deferred?

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March 02, 2010
Interesting perspective & thought provoking review. When it comes to movies, most of the time, for me, it's simply entertainment & I try not to analyze too much about them :-) I haven't seen this one but I think I'd like to pick it up some day. Thanks for an interesting review!
March 03, 2010
You're welcome, and thank you!
January 14, 2010
Really great review. I'll have to agree I liked some of their other animated movies better, I am a real fan of Happy Feet and Ratatouille. I felt as though it is for older children though, at least in the sense of understanding it. I might watch it with my daughter when she is 8 or so :) I love your writing style by the way!
January 18, 2010
Thank you very much.
January 12, 2010
I'm gonna have to disagree on this one, the soundtrack for Up is amazing! Its a score, composed by Michael Giacchino. You can sample the tracks on Amazon, and if you don't remember the charming scenes with Carl and Ellie, here is a you tube sound clip. I just thought all the songs matched the animation and mood of the film, and I am transported to that adventure whenever I listen to it.
January 05, 2010
nice. This one had high marks for most people but for me, an animated film need be so visually stunning as long as the story is well-developed and compelling. This was alright but follows the same formula as those done by Pixar. Nothing wrong with sticking to a profitable formula, but I prefer a much more adult-themed animated movie.
January 05, 2010
I agree with you there. I enjoyed Up, but I've seen better animated films, both Pixar and non-Pixar. I think I may have been a bit generous with my +3 rating.
January 07, 2010
I would've rated UP a 3 also so I agree with you there. I actually enjoyed MONSTER vs. ALIENS and even MONSTER HOUSE than UP. Maybe it's just me. LOL
January 09, 2010
Ooo, I really enjoyed Monster House, and Bob from Monsters VS Aliens was hilarious.
January 04, 2010
That's the beauty of Pixar movies, they can appeal to all ages!  I love how they can bring up universal, typically-adult themes, and package it into a children's movie that's so much more.  Great review, and nice touch with the Langston Hughes poem, which is perfectly appropriate for this movie.
January 04, 2010
Thank you very much. I love Pixar films, and agree with you completely.
More Up reviews
review by . March 07, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Heartwarmer!
Up has certainly reached new heights and depths in the cartoon industry. As a film, it is colorful (remember those balloons?) and full of potentials and possibilities (a flying house, eh? not bad at all!).      My first impression when I began watching the animation of the two main characters Russel & Carl is that hey, they both looked rounded and 3 dimensional. I like the rounded feel to the faces of these characters, very likable, very real, very cute! I have the urge …
review by . June 08, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Once again, Pixar has succeeded in creating a film that is intended for the parents as much as for the kids.  UP joins a long list of Pixar movies that adults enjoy just as much as children.    Don't get me wrong.  The kids will definitely love this movie.  It has:   talking dogs colorful balloons the most exotic bird since archeopteryx   But there is so much for the parents in this one.  The opening vignette is a tale of love, life, and …
review by . November 17, 2010
Over the years, PIXAR movies have excelled in sprinkling in moments of deep emotion within all the inventive fun. I remember particularly well the sadness when Jessie the Cowgirl sings about her long lost owner in TOY STORY 2 or the final moment of MONSTERS INC. when Scully sees Boo again (the one moment makes watching the whole movie worthwhile...not that it wasn't already). WALL E certainly had many touching moments.     But Pixar's new UP has them all beat. There are some …
review by . February 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
All of us have acquired a fondness for CGI-generated animated features ever since the days of “Toy Story” and Pixar studios together with Disney have crafted several amusing animated movies based on a simple yet effective crowd-pleasing formula. While I am not exactly a huge fan of the Pixar’s works, I have found some of their animated features quite impressive such as “Monsters Inc.”, “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”. So how does Pixar’s …
review by . April 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Carl Fredrickson (Edward Asner) is an adventurous, young boy, who meets a girl named Ellie who shares his same passion. Once they are older they fall in love, and get married. They had once planned to travel to a lost land in South America; however, when Ellie dies Carl becomes a grouchy old man with a hard heart. He is being forced to stay in a retirement home for hitting a construction worker, so he comes up with the plan of tying hundreds of balloons to his house and flying away to the lost …
review by . October 22, 2009
It's been a long time coming for us Brits, but Up is finally here, and I'm glad to say it's been worth the wait.      With every new film they release, Pixar somehow manage to add more and more depth, not just to their visuals, but to their stories too. Now less concerned with zany characters, elaborate action set-pieces, saccharine sweet moments and over-cooked visual bravura, Up is perhaps the studio's most human, most poignant, character driven movie to date. Such is the brilliance …
Quick Tip by . November 06, 2010
Awesome beginning and loses its gas after the halfway point. The film had a very strong emotional first half but then it falls to the usual contrived devices that we've all seen before. It had some nice elements to it (seniors fighting) but the plot was riddled with holes too. 3.5 Out of 5 Stars      See the full review here.
review by . May 12, 2009
Scully and I enjoying a glass of wine
Pixar has become the most dependable studio out there for producing reliable films that don't simply continue to raise the bar in animation but set a level of excellence in storytelling that puts most live-action movies to shame. 'Up' represents another change in style, as significant as Wall-E's shift to photorealism, intricate camera effects and darker themes. It effectively blends moments of tragedy with almost slapstick humor, while showing that their understanding of story structure and pacing …
review by . January 09, 2010
      I'm not a die hard fan of animated movies and I usually like them vs. loving them. But I'd heard great things and had lots of folks recommend it as an awesome movie so I went ahead and rented it.       My overall thoughts:       I like the idea of an animated film about an adult. The story of the man who went on an adventure in his lawn chair has always intrigued me and I loved his simple philosophical reason for his trip, "You …
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Extremely heart-warming and so creative, Up reminds you to follow your dreams at any age. Dug is one of my favorite characters.
About the reviewer
GCS ()
My user-name was derived from the title of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. I came to Lunch with the hopes of publishing reviews that would be appreciated by others and reading the reviews of others that hope … more
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About this movie


is a comedy adventure about Carl Fredricksen (Edward Asner), a retired 78-year-old balloon salesman who meets and later marries a girl named Ellie. Growing up in a small Midwestern town, Ellie has always dreamed of visiting South America. Unfortunately, she died before she got a chance. In hopes of fulfilling his promise to Ellie, Carl uses 10,000 balloons to make his house fly and sets off for South America. He unknowingly takes a chubby eight-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell along for the ride and the duo match up for one thrilling adventure around the earth.

 The film is directed by Pete Docter (the director of Monsters Inc.) and features voices of Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer and Jorgan Nagai. Up premiered by opening the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, which was the first animated film to do so. The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and grossed over $683 million worldwide, making it Pixar's second most commercially successful film, after Finding Nemo.


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Genre: Animation
Release Date: May 29, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Bob Peterson
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios
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