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A 2009 Pixar Studios movie

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Pixar produces another Oscar-winner

  • May 12, 2009
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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 gets more refined with every release.
Up is about a 70-something ex-balloon salesman who fulfills a lifelong dream of adventure by tying thousands of balloons to his house and flying away to South America. This trip, inspired by his adventure-loving wife who dies before their dream is realized, is forced when property developers attempt a compulsory purchase on his house and try to move him to a retirement home (issues of death and eminent domain in a cartoon?). The problem is that he has an enthusiastic - and fatherless - 8-year old Wildness Explorer stowed away on the property when it takes off. Their adventure focuses on the characters they meet along the way, while our hero Carl is still trying to drag his house to the dream destination at the top of a waterfall.

The opening shows the life of Carl, growing from an young boy, meeting his adventuring-loving girlfriend, their marriage and her death just before their adventure starts - it's an incredibly emotional 5-minute intro that's light on dialog and heavy on visuals, and didn't leave a dry eye in the theater. This sequence in particular was reminiscent of the dialog-free sections of Wall-E which deliver their plot punches without exposition or the need for endless sequences that would take twice as long in live action. But this approach doesn't leave the younger audience behind either, and for such a dark start, all I could see in the audience were kids and adults alike glued to the screen.

I won't give away any more plot details since the film doesn't open for another three weeks, but every scene and character trait is meticulously plotted so that nothing seems too ridiculous or contrived, even for such a fantastic journey. The graphic stylization is also fresh, in the same way that The Incredibles had a very distinct and authentic look. All of this serves to heighten the humor and there are some extremely funny scenes, helped by the way the characters are quickly and believably established (even the talking dogs, but you'll see what I mean).

This is the second time I've been to Pixar to see a pre-release of a movie and I felt a little scared before seeing this one, wondering if their run of first-class work may have hit a plateau. On the surface, I didn't really think a story about a senior in a flying house could live up to Wall-E, yet although the films are as different as they can be, Up is as gripping and entertaining as any Pixar film. Their ability to blends styles and take the audience from laughter to tears in minutes showcases their deep understanding of story, and it's a shame that more films aren't crafted the same way.

Up opens on May 29, and I highly recommend it to everyone. The next two films out of Pixar will be Toy Story 3 (2010) and Cars 2 (2011). By the way, look at for a very funny short film before Up called Partly Cloudly. 
Scully and I enjoying a glass of wine

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October 23, 2009
I recently saw Monsters inc again with my niece and it really is fantastic - the trailer for Up doesnt really inspire me to see it but your review does encourage me to. Thanks.
June 07, 2009
Hey, great review! I also enjoyed Ratatouille quite a bit, probably cause I cook, but still. Partly Cloudy was wonderful and I think I might have actually liked it more than UP itself. Was there anything you didn't enjoy about the film?
June 10, 2009
I think there were 5 lagging minutes about 25 mins before the end, but it's really a minor complaint. I loved the movie (and Ratatouille!).
May 19, 2009
Thanks for the great review (and for not including too many spoilers!) I'm continually amazed by the quality of Pixar films, both visually and emotionally. You've got me really looking forward to those first 5 minutes!
May 19, 2009
Thanks! Pixar have really reached the top of their game - I wish more studios had the level of commitment they do.
May 14, 2009
excellent write up. I've always seen Pixar as becoming formulaic, I think my fave is still the Incredibles, with Ratatoiulle (spelled that right?) a close second. Great to know this movie hit the spot. How'd you manage to see this so early?
May 14, 2009
Thanks! I got tickets through the San Francisco Film Society which holds a preview every year. They're $125 but they feed and water you too. The Incredible and Ratatouille are really great... I've watched them more times than is healthy. :-)
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 . January 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What ever happens to a dream deferred?
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 …
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 . 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.
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James Beswick ()'s "token Brit".
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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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