Written by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Directed by Bob Peterson
Running Time: 1:36
for some peril and action.
Up was a sweet but at times weird film.
Carl's house is in the middle of a construction zone and the developers would try anything to get him to sell. But instead of being forced out, the former balloon salesman comes up with the idea of using the power of the helium balloon to fly his house to a land not seen by most humans. It is a land he and his late wife always dreamed of going to, but could never find the time. Carl is accidentally joined on this journey by Russell, a Boy Scout-esque young lad who only needs one more badge to move up to the next level. Together, they weather bad storms and the loss of a GPS unit to land almost exactly where they want to be. They find the land of enchantment Carl had been waiting his whole life to see, but the world is filled with strange creature and talking dogs, and a mad man out to find a mysterious bird. Carl must decide whether to live out the dreams of his past, or save the present.
I'll start off by saying that Up was not one of my favorite Disney/Pixar films. While the animation is absolutely tremendous, I didn't find myself connecting with the story as much as I normally do with Pixar films. That being said, the first 10 minutes of the movie, especially the musical montage of Carl and his wife as they grow old together, could be the most beautiful minutes you'll see on screen this year. The ability of the animators to make you feel like you're watching two real people is amazing. Even though the humans in the film are obviously more cartoon than real, after a while you forget they're animated. I promise you, at the end of that sequence there won't be a dry eye in the house. And there are moments throughout the film where you will be amazed and moved at the same time. But there are other times where you just kind of scratch your head.
To me the biggest problem was, they set up the movie as being very real. Boy meets girl. They fall in love, get married and go through some very serious problems but fight through it and live a happy and long life together. Then she passes away and Carl has to continue on. This could happen to any of us, right? But then he decides he's going to fly his house to a random point in South America, using only a map taken out of a magazine 60 years earlier... and when he gets there he ends up pulling the house using a garden hose. And he has to be at least 70 years old. And the mad man with the talking dogs has to be at least 90, but they're both rather spry. I know it's an animated film and you have to take everything with a grain of salt, which I have no problem with. But when the first part of the film is so real and the rest of the movie so fake, there was a disconnect for me.
Visually, the movie is stunning. I saw the 3D version and even though you apparently lose 20% of the color from a regular 2D film, it was still brilliant. That being said, there isn't a whole lot of reason to see the movie in 3D. If you're expecting some 3D tricks with things flying at your head, you will be disappointed. While I always think 3D is cool, in this case it was unnecessary, and you might be better off watching it in a normal theater. The movie moves along at a slow pace which had me checking my watch once, which is rare for a Pixar film. The voice cast was pretty good and Ed Asner as Carl was the perfect choice. This movie though was the first time I didn't like a specific character, and that was the kid, Russell. There was something really weird about the way he was animated and his character, while sympathetic, wasn't really likeable. I enjoyed grumpy old Carl more than the kid. I loved the talking dogs, even if their ability to talk was never explained fully.
Over the years Pixar films haven't gotten a lot more adult oriented and Up is no different. The story is all about a guy trying to live out the dreams of his childhood in honor of his wife. It's a very sweet, dramatic film that doesn't have a lot of humor in it. Kids will like the talking dog and the mysterious bird, but I don't think they'll get the story. Adults can definitely understand the story but it might be too serious for a lighthearted family film. Last year's Wall-E (which I still consider the best movie of 2008) was similar, but there was something magical about that film. This movie, while visually stunning and at times extremely brilliant, lacks the magic I'm used to finding in Disney films.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Up and think it is definitely worth seeing, but it doesn't make my list of the top 5 Disney/Pixar films. I'm not 100% sure kids will appreciate the story, but they will like the visuals.
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