Up Directed by: Pete Docter Cast: (Voices) Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: PG Release Date: May 29, 2009
Plot: Carl Fredricksen (Asner), a widower about to lose his home to developers, comes up with a scheme to escape his problems. He attaches thousands of balloons to his house and flies away for South America. But he doesn't expect a tagalong in the form of a Wilderness Scout named Russell (Nagai).
Who’s It For? Anyone. Pixar's created another funny story that should appeal to adults and children. Like Ratatouille, there are moments that are more mature, but nothing inappropriate for kids. Young children might get a little frightened at times, but should be ok.
Expectations: The previews didn't look terribly exciting, but I've really enjoyed every Pixar film since A Bug's Life so I still wanted to see it.
Ed Asner as Carl Fredricksen: Asner lends his voice to the curmudgeonly Fredricksen. Though gruff, Asner still allows him to be accessible enough to become friends with Russell and be loved by a dog. After the death of his wife, he feels alone in the world and decides to keep his last promise to her and move his home to Paradise Falls in Venezuela. But fate, in the form of an extremely helpful Wilderness Scout named Russell intervenes. Asner conveys Fredricksen's growth over the course of the film in a delicate, but noticeable way. Just a really strong performance. Score: 8
Jordan Nagai as Russell: Nagai does a great job bringing life to Russell. Russell only wants to get a scout badge in assisting the elderly. After stowing away on Mr. Fredricksen's house (he was looking for snipe at the time) he ends up in South America with Fredricksen. Nagai's a natural; he makes Russell a really fun kid. I look forward to seeing what he does next. Score: 8
Christopher Plummer as Charles Muntz: Plummer channels his dark side as Muntz, an explorer who fell from grace and has been living with a bunch of talking dogs in South America for decades. So he can be excused for having gone a bit crazy. Plummer seems to relish the role, switching between charming and sinister without missing a beat. You may not want him to win, but I enjoyed the time he spent on the screen. Score: 9
Talking: I loved the talking dogs, especially Dug. Their syntax made me laugh so many times. I almost fell over when Dug said he wanted a ball "ever so much." And no, he doesn't sound like Oliver Twist. The dialogue is just all around super sharp and manages to find a balance between touching and funny. Score: 9
Sights: This is a Pixar film, so it looks gorgeous. The characters look great, the backgrounds are vivid, and it's just perfect. Score: 10
Sounds: Typical animation score--it fits in the background nicely but comes out kicking during really exciting scenes. But not so heavy handed like action film scores in adult films tend to be (see: Angels and Demons). Score: 7
Best Scene: When Dug met Kevin. I loved both those characters, it was just silly slapsticky goodness. I was pretty much laughing like a loon.
Ending: Very satisfying. But I especially liked that Fredricksen kept the dirigible.
Questions: What did Russell's mom think of him going missing for so long? How old is Muntz if Fredricksen admired him as a child and he's 78 now? Where can I get a talking dog collar?
Rewatchability: No problem. Parents won't mind seeing it again and kids will want to watch it over and over. Well, parents may mind after the 20th time but they should be good until then.
Up tells the story of an unlikely union between an elderly man, an adventurous kid, a talking dog and a rare bird. Fredricksen wants to move his home from the city, where it's about to be destroyed by a developer, to Paradise Falls in Venezuela as a final promise to his deceased wife. Russell tags along and immediately makes himself useful, steering the house using his GPS. The rational and the fantastic mix beautifully to create a really fun world. Dogs can talk through special collars and a floating house can be dragged using a garden hose. But the relationships feel real, and that's what anchors the film. Fredricksen and Russell learn to care for one another, not just as two people in the same situation, but for who the other is. We're never hit over the head with Russell's family troubles; it's handled delicately.
Up is what you want a film to be, fun, charming, meaningful and entertaining.
Final Score: 9/10