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Monday, November 5, 2012

Up (2009) - An Honored Gem that is Tops with Kids

Up: Look, Up in the Sky, It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's... Old Man Carl Fredricksen in His Flying House!

DVD cover Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com


Pixar did it again with "Up" (2009). Most people who have seen it love this film. Ed Asner plays - what else - a gruff old man named Carl Fredricksen. Unintentionally, he befriends a boy named Russell (Jordan Nagai). Together, they take on the world in grand style. Isn't that the perfect set-up for an animated film? And it is Pixar's first film in 3D! What else could you want? You will find yourself loving this film if you are into animation.

Russell blowing horn Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Kids can be so annoying!

Well, maybe and maybe not, but an awful lot of people liked this film. It grossed the standard $700 million plus, and won a couple of Oscars (Michael Giacchino for music and Best Animated feature). Not too shabby. Veterans Pete Docter and Bob Peterson directed. It begins with a stunning montage of a marriage, from first love to tragic goodbye. There is more emotion packed into that opening sequence than in most live action films. What follows shows a motley crew of adventurers who let nothing stand in their way.

Carl in floating house Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Carl never gets too excited

Carl wants to meet his long-time hero, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), who is reputed to be lost in a jungle far away. The defining characteristic of this movie, though, is that people and animals are not what they seem at first glance. There are all sorts of sight gags of menacing beasts turning out to be something different, and an awkward bird that becomes sympathetic. Great character development, especially for kids.

House lifted Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Long shot of house taking off

This was Pixar's second feature to get a PG rating, for some relatively violent imagery and deeds. Obviously, for a kid's flick, there is no sex or anything like that.

Scouting the jungle Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
In the jungle

Carl, it turns out, had a love named Ellie (Ellie Docter). They had a dream, just like so many young people. Unfortunately, they never realize it together. After Ellie is long gone, Carl decides to fulfill their joint dream alone. However, a tragedy intervenes, and it appears that the dream will never be realized after all.


Carl, Russell on front porch Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
On the porch of the flying house

But Carl has a plan. You have to have a plan in life. And boy is it a good plan. He's not going to stick around to be incarcerated. Gotta watch out for those old dudes, right?

Carl looking out of house Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Kind of makes you think of 'King Kong'

It turns out that someone else has horned in on his escape, though. That is the young boy, Russell. Instead of Ellie, it turns out to be Russell who joins with old Carl to accomplish their age-old dream. The film is loaded with nods to Disney veterans and metaphors to other classic films whose meaning isn't always clear at first glance, and which you really have to focus to notice.

Carl looking out of house Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Andy from the "Toy Story" Pixar films knows Carl and Ellie from "Up." We know this because he has a postcard from them. He may be related to them. This is one of many hidden nods to other films in "Up."

For example, there are dogs in a "dogfight" at the end, calling out to each other with "Star Wars" code names. If you pay attention, there are all sorts of sly bits to enjoy.

Bird, dog, Russell, Carl Up 2009 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Strange birds

There are some who would say that the story is trite and awkward, and that the ending is a bit odd, even for a kid's animation film. Obviously, a lot of people disagree, and on most public boards, they will be shouted down. This was one of Pixar's most profitable films, for what that's worth. Little children certainly shouldn't have any problems with such issues, nor many older ones, but opinions on animation films that have new themes can differ wildly. Adult viewers, should at least be able to enjoy a love story among all the weird creatures and tragedy.

Enjoy the trailer below!



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