May 29, 2009
Review - " Up " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
accidental stowaway Russell (the buoyantly cheerful Jordan Nagai) on a skyward flight in a two-story house bound for
Paradise Falls somewhere in remotest Venezuela.
"Up" is the movie in which Pixar makes it look easy. A feather-light farce with a delicious dose of the sentimental, it isn't
the animation company's biggest, most complicated or even its best.
It's just a film in which most every oddball element of an odd yet familiar story works.
"Up," shown in 3D in select theaters, is about an aged balloon vendor who inflates his left-over merchandise and flies his
house to South America. A Wilderness Explorer (they can't call him a Cub Scout) tags along, by accident, to annoy him.
Once there, they find talking dogs, a gigantic fabled bird and adventure.
And that's pretty much it.
But the grumpy old man is voiced by
Ed Asner, perfect foil for a too-chatty,
chubby kid (Jordan Nagai).
"Let's play a game. It's called 'Who can be
quiet the longest?"'
"My mom loves that game!"
The dogs have been given collars that
allow their every whimper and bark to
become spoken words.
And the magic is there, right from the start
- a 1930s newsreel about a famous
disgraced explorer, a newsreel seen by
a couple of goofy children in adventure
gear, kids obsessed with that explorer.
They're a boy and a girl who find each
other and are set for life. We're treated to a lovely, dialogue-free montage of the love affair that was their life together. They
save for their "big adventure," but life keeps getting in the way.
Ellie is gone, now. But the love affair goes on. And Carl Fredrickson is determined to see the dream that they deferred - that
trip to Amazonia - through.
"Adventure is out there!"
Within 10 minutes, "Up," directed by the guy who turned the conceit that monsters in the closet collect kids' screams into
"Monsters Inc." (Pete Docter), has cast its spell. After that, it's all in the execution. How would a house hanging from
thousands of balloons steer? (Curtains turned into sails.) How will they avoid collisions? How will they get down? Who might
they find when they get there?
The third-act action is whiz-bang stuff involving the balloon house, vintage fighter planes, a zeppelin and one very big, but
very subtle lesson.
Life's adventures aren't just "out there." They're here, too, wherever life is lived and love is shared. And it's not photos or
mementos that matter; it's the memories of those adventures that keep us warm when we're old. "Up" is a wonderfully
touching, openly dark, and surprisingly surreal adventure story. To call the picture 'sentimental' would be an
understatement, as it is often an ode to sentimentality. It uses wordless montage and the power of silence every bit as
effectively as "Wall-E" and it's often just as action-packed as "The Incredibles". It is a beautiful story, gloriously told with rich
and vivid characters, eye-popping visual splendor and acknowledges the complete despairs and utter joys of life in one fell
"Up" is preceded by an equally sweet short cartoon, "Partly Cloudy." It's about the clouds storks fly to so they can pick up
babies for delivery, and one clumsy little cloud that only seems to handle the problem infants - baby alligators, electric
eels, porcupines - and the hapless stork who delivers them. Pixar makes this look as effortlessly sweet and funny as
everything else they do.
Go out of your way to see "Up" in 3D, you wont be sorry. The effects are nothing short of breathtaking. This colorful
imaginative fable will delight children and adults alike. And who among us hasn't dreamed of tying a bunch of balloons to
their house and just floating away from all their troubles.
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please send an email to Critics@deltafilms.net
Directed by Pete Docter
Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Delroy Lindo
In the rivalry between the only two animation studios that really count,
Pixar and Dreamworks, Disney's Pixar is undoubtedly king. Pixar has
taken 4 of the 8 Oscars for Animated feature film since it's inception in
2001 (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and WALL-E - How
Warner Bros 'Happy Feet' beat Pixar's 'Cars' in 2002 is beyond me).
Dreamworks has managed to snag only 2 (Shrek and Wallace &
Gromit). In the latest round Dreamworks landed the first blow with it's
stunning 3D effects in this years "Moster's vs Aliens". Now Steve Jobs
and the Mouse House have struck back with their own 3D animated
release. Chalk one more 'up' for Pixar, which has been in a nonstop
tug-of-war with DreamWorks for the animation mantle ever since the two
studios went head-to-head with two bug movies in 1998. (in the interest
of full disclosure Delta Films holds and ownership interest in both
studios). I hate to admit it because I'm a big Dreamworks fan (and
investor) but Pixar just makes better movies. And their latest foray is no
Filled with the spirit of adventure and a lot of heart. "Up" is a character-
driven film whose wordless opening sequence chronicles a lifelong love
affair that resonates through the rest of Up, adding more than a little
sentimentality and melancholy emotion to everything that follows. It’s
what takes Up way beyond what could have been merely a grand
adventure tale that sends crotchety 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen (voice
by Edward Asner in grumpy old-men style) and his 10-year-old