Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Screenwriter: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Cast: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, Paul Eiding, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Delroy Lindo
Release Date: 2009-06-03
Studio: Disney Pixar
Our Rating: 4.00
Ultimately, Up is probably going to be viewed as one of Pixar’s minor works, more Finding Nemo than Wall-E, but the latest release from Disney’s true heart and brains is no blemish on the studio’s flawless non-Larry the Cable Guy-related output. (Not that Cars is necessarily bad. I just can’t vouch for it because I refuse to watch it.) The story of Carl Fredricksen (Asner) a 78-year-old man who uses tens of thousands of helium party balloons to convert his house into an airship and flies it to South America to keep a promise to his deceased wife, doesn’t have Wall-E’s scope or Toy Story 2’s memorable character cast, but it does push the limits of emotional realism in mainstream children’s cartoons.
The film begins with Carl as a small child in aviator goggles, watching a newsreel chronicling the adventures of explorer Charles Muntz (Plummer). After leaving the theater, he meets Ellie, a similar-minded girl determined to follow Muntz to the uncharted wilderness of South America. Over a wordless and truly heartbreaking montage, Ellie and Carl court, marry, and grow old together, working side by side in the local zoo, perpetually saving money for their own adventure, but constantly thwarted by boring life’s incidental setbacks until it’s too late. This sequence resonates throughout the entire film, permeating Carl’s later explorations with an aging widower’s sorrow, but the most poignant moments seem to play exclusively off adult anxieties, leaving kids giggling at the film’s sillier conceits — obnoxious boy scout tag-along Russell (Nagai), an army of talking dogs, and a giant dodo-like bird named Kevin — while their parents search for an opportunity to discreetly blow their noses. — Jeremy Martin