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A 2009 Pixar Studios movie

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Another triumph for Pixar. Be prepared to shed a few tears within 10 minutes.

  • Nov 17, 2010
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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 moments of such profound emotion that I almost hesitate to call this movie a comedy. The opening ten minutes nearly caused me to lose my composure altogether! We meet Carl Fredricksen as a young boy in a movie theater (probably during the early days of the depression), enchanted by the true-life adventures of Charles Muntz, a dashing explorer of the newly discovered Paradise Falls in South America...a man who is fearless, flies a dirigible and is a bit of an inventor too. Carl is a shy boy, particularly when he meets Ellie, a talkative, high-spirited girl who also idolizes Muntz. The two become fast friends, Carl silent and admiring, Ellie fast-paced and brave. Through an extremely well-executed montage, we literally see Carl & Ellie go from young friends, to boyfriend/girlfriend to husband & wife. We see the path their marriage takes (and we see quite clearly how their dream of one day living at Paradise Falls never comes true) right to its end with Ellie's death. (This is not a spoiler, in my opinion...I told you WHAT happens in the first 10 minutes, but not HOW...which is key.) This montage has several touching moments, and the ultimate affect was to leave me feeling very sad...a feeling I couldn't shake for a long time, actually.

Carl (brilliantly voiced by Ed Asner) is not a happy widower. He mostly sits on his porch and watches his once quiet small-town street become part of a sprawling metropolis. He's the kind of old man that kids always steer clear of. He carries with him the feeling that he let his beloved Ellie down in life, mostly because he couldn't take them to Paradise Falls. It's a bitter feeling.

Then one day, when he has nothing left to lose...he inflates thousands of helium balloons, attaches them to his house, and floats his entire home away in the hopes of drifting to South America to finally give his house a home there. It's such an absurd idea, but is beautifully executed (not a big surprise from the visual geniuses at Pixar) and the image of this old wooden house carried by these brightly colored balloons becomes almost iconic.

Carl has accidently flown away with a young boyscout named Russell cringing in fear on his front porch. Since Carl can't toss the unwanted kid overboard, he must bring him inside.

That's enough plot. Carl and Russell have a number of heart-stopping or hilarious adventures...eventually joining forces with a large purple ostrich-like bird named Kevin and best of all, they meet Dug, a simple little dog who has a wonderful collar around his neck that allows his thoughts to be turned into speech. Pixar & Disney movies have always thrived best when there are some colorful "side kicks", and Dug is one of my recent favorites. Carl and his gang even meet old Charles Muntz, who is not necessarily quite like the man Carl used to admire.

UP is one of the best movies I've ever seen about growing and being OLD. It's not just a movie with an old man as its hero. It gives us a clear emotional picture of the frailty, the disappointments, the loneliness and the sadness of being an old man. It also clearly shows that old men can have amazing resources, wisdom and frankly, a lot to offer the world. Carl had thought his life was nearly over except for waiting around for the actual end. He discovers this isn't quite true. For this alone, UP is a movie I dare to call IMPORTANT...because kids are going to see it, and it has the potential to actually change the way some of its young viewers see their grandparents.

It's also a visual treat. The floating house tops the list of great images, but Pixar does great things with an old dirigible as well. And if you can see the movie in 3D, that's a plus. The 3D isn't essential, and there are no moments in the film when you know the director was simply cow-towing to the desire to give us one of those "in your face" 3D moments that never quite work anyway. But the 3D adds loveliness to the experience, and it's worth the extra 3 bucks.

This may be the least purely funny Pixar movie. I laughed at plenty, don't get me wrong. It's surely funnier than most films...but it's no TOY STORY or RATATOUILLE. But it is a classic nonetheless. It's been a few days since I've seen it, and I would happily go again...even though the opening scene (and a few others later in the film) are sure to wrench some tears. UP takes you on an emotional journey that is as layered and textured as anything you could expect from a film. Frankly, I don't know how Pixar keeps doing it. It is truly a company staffed entirely by miracle workers, apparently.

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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 . 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 . 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.
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … 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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