a critiQal film review Up (2009)

Plot: 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredericksen (Asner) finally fulfills a lifelong dream of great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers too late his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell (Nagai).

Reviewed
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  • ...As heart-warming and charming as it is comical, Up is another feather-in-the-cap for Pixar.

Pixar is always a sure bet when it comes to movies. Whether they are sending us to communicate with childhood toys (Toy Story (1995)), bringing us face to face with the monster in our closet (Monsters, Inc. (2001)), sending us under the sea (Finding Nemo (2003)) or even sending us to a future where the earth has become a garbage dump (WALL-E (2008)), they manage to deliver one brilliant film after the next.

So, when we heard that Pixar’s latest, Up, was heading our way this summer, there was never a question where we’d be opening weekend (sorry, Drag Me to Hell (2009)). But would Pixar be able to find phenomenal success yet again with this 10th film, or are they starting to lose their edge?

Pixar continues their minimalistic approach to casting from WALL-E (2008). Ed Asner delivers a wonderful voice performance to cranky old codger Carl, giving the character a real heart and soul. Newcomer Jordan Nagai lends his voice to the slightly irritating yet endearing 8-year-old Russell, Christopher Plummer contributes his old-school acting to his character Charles Muntz, and Pixar’s so-called “good luck charm”, John Ratzenberger, also makes a brief cameo as the voice of a work foreman, thus making him the only actor to voice a character in all 10 Pixar films to date.

The story is the real heart of the matter in a Pixar film. No matter how amazing their animation gets, their films always center around a great story – and Up is no exception. Starting off with a surprising amount of sadness, Up takes off, literally, into the fantastical – and viewers will find themselves glued to their seats once again until the end credits.

John Lasseter, executive producer and chief creative officer for Pixar and Walt Disney, likes to quote a line from Walt Disney: “For every laugh, there is a tear”, and he and Pixar continue to showcase how much more a film can be when it has both heart and humor.

Of course, you also have to have great animation, and Pixar continues to amaze in that department as well. Whether it’s a slowly-clearing mist or breath-taking landscapes – or, on a smaller scale, the movement of stray balloons – Pixar continues to astound with what it can do in the animation department.

As heart-warming and charming as it is comical, Up is another feather-in-the-cap for Pixar, and Ed Asner’s cranky codger Carl should earn a special place in moviegoers’ hearts.

True, it does get a bit too dark at times (Muntz’s fanatical obsession brings him to attack with gun blazing), but overall, viewers should enjoy Pixar’s 10th film, and will be well-pleased by the time they exit the theater.

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