Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Well, they've done it. Pixar has finally found the magic again. Okay, maybe the magic was never fully lost, but I haven't truly enjoyed a Pixar film since "The Incredibles." "Cars" was okay, "Ratatouille" was better and "Wall-E" just left me cold. But Up made me a believer once again. I loved this movie. Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) meets the love of his life, a tomboy named Ellie, in a broken-down old house in which they form an explorers club. Following the exploits of a famous explorer named Charles F. Muntz, Ellie declares she wants to follow in the footsteps of her hero and move her clubhouse to Paradise Falls in South America. As Ellie and Carl grow up, the dream becomes to visit Paradise Falls but circumstances always prevent them from making the trip, and Ellie dies before they ever get the chance. Still living in the house he and Ellie moved into as a young couple, Carl tries to hold on to the memories that he and Ellie shared but he is being pressured to sell the house by a greedy developer. Soon, circumstances get out of Carl's control and in a mad plan to finally make it to Paradise Falls, Carl attaches thousands of helium balloons to his house, pulls it loose of its foundation and sets off for South America. Carl thinks he's off for a quiet-- albeit slightly crazy-- trip, but a knock on the door reveals that Russell (Jordan Nagai) a Wilderness Explorer trying to earn an "assisting the elderly" badge, was on the doorstep when the house flies into the air. Since I don't want to give any spoilers (I think I haven't given away that wasn't already known) I can't really get into greater detail, but I can tell you the movie is full of action and heart-- like you would expect from a Pixar movie. What "Up" does better than virtually anything I've seen in years is balance all the elements very well. There's lots of humor (I laughed out loud a lot), action, sentimentality and some fairly outrageous plot devices. Ed Asner is simply great as the voice of Carl. What could have been an overly grumpy character is instead sympathetic and surprisingly heroic. Jordan Nagai, the precocious 9 year-old who is voice of Russell, also does a fantastic job. And if you've seen the ads you'll already be aware of Dug-- the talking dog-- and he is as funny as the ads suggest. Definitely the best movie I have seen all year-- and I doubt I'll see anything better anytime soon. I highly recommend it.