“By tying thousands of balloons to his home, 78-year-old Carl sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America. Russell, a wilderness explorer 70 years younger, inadvertently becomes a stowaway.”
Directed by: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, Rated: PG, 96 minutes
Up is one of Pixar’s finest moments in film-making. It’s also one of their most mature, dealing with themes of death, loss, and the inability to move on. It features a scene, that lasts just over a couple of minutes, that tells a better love story than most films tell in an entire 90 minutes. And yes, it will make you cry. When I first saw the film in theaters, I wasn’t quite sure about how to feel, as it really goes from very dramatic to very funny in a matter of moments. I couldn’t tell if Up wanted to be taken seriously or not. But, after multiple viewings, including today’s, Up has carved out a little place in my heart. And it also really makes me want to get a dog.
Aw, look at them.
Up tells the story of Carl, an elderly man who doesn’t know what to do after his wife, Ellie, passes away. The couple had always planned on visiting Paradise Falls, a tropical location somewhere in South America. But, as they grew older, bills crept up and unexpected accidents occurred, and the savings never got large enough to make the trip. After Ellie dies and Carl faces eviction, and possibly living out the rest of his life in a retirement home, he decides to attach thousands of balloons to his house and fly south, hoping to reach the Falls. And, of course, because of the magic of movies and the freedom of animation, it works. However, not everything goes as planned and little Russell, a Wilderness Explorer seeking every merit badge in the world, finds himself stuck on Carl’s porch which is thousands of feet above the ground. Carl reluctantly takes Russell along for the trip and once they arrive, they encounter much more than expected, including a giant bird named Kevin and a talking dog named Dug (this is where wanting a canine friends comes into play).
Aw, look at him.
The best part of Up is the fact that it is more than just a kid’s movie. It has themes you’d never expect in something so colorful and family-friendly and it really hits close to home. Up is all about the desire for adventure we all have, and doing whatever it takes to explore. It’s also about love in its purest form, where your spouse/significant other is not only your best friend, but your travel companion. It would be a nice world if every man and woman had their own Carl or Ellie. Up also shows that the kid in all of us never dies, he/she just hides behind being a “grown-up” and can reemerge at any time in our lives. Up also features the voice talents of Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer, two legends in their own right that play the old curmudgeon-y type very well.
Aw, look at… ah, nevermind.
I would highly recommend Up. Chances are you’ve already seen it, as it is a Pixar flick. Up also has one of the greatest scores in movie history, composed by the masterful Michael Giacchino, who won an Oscar for his work. Unfortunately, Up can also be looked back upon (along with Toy Story 3), as one of the last great Pixar productions, as the studio is slowly, but surely, losing it’s charm. If you ever have an ache for adventure that you can’t quite find the solution for, tie a bunch of balloons to your house, car, or furniture and fly wherever the wind takes you.* Who knows where you’ll end up and who knows what you’ll find.
*Cinematic Katzenjammer does recommend you actually try this
a terrific blend of humor and drama that makes the film an unexpected treat
a beautiful score by Giacchino that is its own character in the film
the love story between Carl and Ellie, and seeing the lengths he’ll go to achieve their dream, even though she’s no longer with him