Monday, June 1, 2009

UP Review: Pixar Is Up, Up And Away With A Film that Deserves The Animated Film Oscar Plus!

"UP" Review:  Pixar Is Up, Up And Away With A Film that Deserves The Animated Film Oscar Plus!

(Original Post At :J

Short Version Aggregate Review: UP is arguably Pixar’s finest achievement to date, and is surprisingly mature (and moving) in its subject matter, and the 3D visuals are pretty awesome too.  (Emphasis added mine:  Get out The Oscar And Engrave it now!  Pixar Is Up, Up And Away With A Film Deserves The Animated Film Oscar Plus nomination for screen play and musical score.)

Despite a couple of misguided reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes, UP leads the way with a 98% that was backed up with a $68,200,000 box office this weekend. if Ratatouille and Wall-E deserved to be in the running for Best Picture of the Year (as many said they did at the times of their releases) then UP certainly does.

From Disney/Pixar comes "Up," a comedy adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 9-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell.

Disney and Pixar have cause to celebrate about this film! The 10th feature film from the Pixar filmmakers, Up, was selected to open the prestigious 62nd Festival de Cannes on Wednesday, May 13th. Cannes and Disney/Pixar are breaking new ground as this will be the first time ever a 3-D animated film has been awarded the coveted opening night spot. Up, which will be shown in Disney Digital 3-D, also marks the first time a Disney movie has opened the festival. Up was directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and follows the adventures of a 78 year old balloon salesman who ties balloons to his house in order to travel to the wilds of South America. 

In a statement issued by Disney/Pixar, John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, said of the honor: "We are absolutely thrilled that the Cannes Film Festival has chosen Up to be its prestigious opening night offering. This is a huge step for animation, and further supports our belief that a great animated film is simply a great film. Pete Docter, the director of Up, and the amazing team of artists, animators, technicians, and storytellers at Pixar have worked so hard to create a great motion picture that is impressively fresh, funny, and powerfully emotional." Local reviewers in the DC area media have called it an “adult animated films for kids and a kids animated film for adults”, and that about hits the nail on the head. 

Pixar’s latest summer offering, UP, is a fantastic film. Simply fantastic. Seriously, if Ratatouille and Wall-E deserved to be in the running for Best Picture of the Year (as many said they did at the times of their releases) then UP certainly does.

It’s That Good.

The film - which was written by Bob Peterson (Finding NemoRatatouille) and directed by Peter Docter (Monsters, Inc.) - delivers all the things we’ve come to expect from a Pixar animated feature: gorgeous visuals, a strong story rife with moral lessons and (gasp) good character development; humor both low-brow (for the kids) and high-brow (for the grownups), with strokes of bold wit and a dash of sagely wisdom for good measure.

And yet, UP also delivers something quite unexpected: Pixar’s most adult-oriented story yet, slyly disguised in a fantastic adventure tale.

UP tells the life story of Carl Fredricksen (the unmistakable voice of Ed Asner), a shy little boy who grows up in (1930?’s) America, an era in which people pack into movie theaters to watch news reels about adventurous explorers like Charles Muntz, who travels the world on one epic quest after the next.

Young Carl Fredricksen idolizes Muntz: He spends his lonely days roaming his neighborhood pretending to be Muntz until one day he runs into Ellie, an energetic and fearless young girl (everything Carl is not) who idolizes Charles Muntz just as much as Carl does. Ellie and Carl cross their hearts then and there and swear to be great adventurers like Charles Muntz; and with that oath, theirs is a match made in heaven.

After that fateful first encounter, we get a truly beautiful montage of Carl and Ellie’s life-long romance. We see the young kids grow into a teenage couple; see them get married and buy a house, working day jobs (balloon vendor) while saving up for the kind of adventures they fantasized about as kids. We watch the couple deal with the ups and downs, joys and tragedies of life; and gradually we watch them grow into old age, Ellie’s “My Adventures” scrapbook still unfilled, even as her time on Earth ends.

With Ellie gone, Carl becomes a disgruntled old man desperately trying to hold on to a house, heirlooms and a lost-love he cherishes. A physical confrontation with neighborhood developers leads to Carl being forced into a retirement home for the rest of his days - but before the old man will give in he decides to honor the oath he and Ellie swore as kids and take one last shot at adventure! Carl ties an impossible number of balloons to his house (working a balloon cart at the zoo was his job for many years), rigs a steering system and UP he goes and 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America.

Right after lifting off, however, he learns he isn't alone on his journey, since Russell, (Jordan Nagai),  a young boy scout-type, a wilderness, 70 years his junior, has inadvertently become a stowaway on the trip desperately trying to earn his last merit badge assisting the elderly, for personal reasons that are as moving as a they are heartbreakingly naive. From that point on, the story mainly focuses on Carl trying to find room in his broken heart for love and friendship again, with Russell acting as his primary foil and simultaneous source of inspiration. Russell is also handy for providing the comedic relief the kids will get.

Of course there’s a whole flying to South America, evil nemesis (Christopher Plummer), talking dogs/mythical bird adventure thrown in there.  All of that stuff is pretty cool, and will be sure to entertain the kids. However, as one of the grownup kids, the story (for me) was all about Carl dealing with his profound sense of loss and love. The flying house escapism, fantastic creatures and evil villains were all just means and metaphors for that awesome emotional narrative.

No lie, there were a lot of sobs and sniffles in the theater. If you’re old enough to know about love and loss, it’s hard not to be affected by UP. By now it’s no secret that Pixar knows how to tell a fantastic story, but who knew they could handle romantic drama so well? Superb work.

Drawing here on comment made by other reviewers and other who also saw the film today in 3D I share this composite perspective:

“Visually, UP is just as stunning. The digital 3D tech employed for this film is far from a gimmick - it enhances the experience of the film by multitudes. When Carl and Russell are walking over cliffs or trekking through gorgeously rendered South American jungles, with an enormous floating 3D house harnessed to their backs, it’s not just some of the most gorgeous eye-candy seen onscreen (the balloons are truly amazing), it’s also a very clever and potent metaphor for grief. Rendered in 3D, those themes stood out loud and clear; the rest of the time, this movie was just a treat to look at.” 

The REELZ Movie Channel: (2) Previews 

          Rated: PG [See Full Rating]         

Official Site  :  The Videos  :

Full Screen Trailer


Director Pete Docter gives commentary on a clip from Disney/Pixar's 'UP.'


Click to Play


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Los Angeles Premiere PhotosNeed to Know: A Brief History of PixarOfficial Site


Pete Docter
Bob Peterson (co-director)


Bob Peterson (screenplay)


View company contact information for Up on IMDbPro.

Release Date:

29 May 2009 (USA) more

Pixar's 'Up' Dominates Box Office                                   

New York Times - 1 hour ago

Box office is looking 'Up' as usual for Pixar USA Today

Pixar goes `Up' with $68.2 million debut weekend The Associated Press

Disney's 3-D 'Up' Is No. 1 With $68 Million in Sales Bloomberg

Los Angeles Times

all 444 news articles »

Robert Wilonsky of The Village Voice says that the trailer sells the film short:

That is not to fault the trailer, loaded with pretty pictures and pratfalls intended to woo the wee ones. But it doesn't prepare you for the emotional punch of Up's first few minutes, when it presents the most heartfelt -- the most sincere -- love story in recent memory: the love between a boy and a girl, who become a man and a woman, who become a husband and a wife, who become a widower and a memory that haunts the rest of what follows. The first 10 minutes of Up are flawless; the final 80 minutes, close enough

Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly talked about some of the artistic elements:

Michael Giacchino's gorgeous music, invoking great Max Steiner scores from the '40s and '50s, steers the story's emotional shifts with great elegance. The renderings, the color palette, the small and generous jokes, the perspective as balloons lift a whole house in the air -- all are breathtaking.

There were some differences in opinion, however, regarding the merits of seeing the film in 3-D. David Edelstein of New York Magazine urged viewers to take advantage:

By all means, see Up in its 3-D incarnation: The cliff drops are vertiginous, and the scores of balloons -- bunched into the shape of one giant balloon -- are as pluckable as grapes. The dogfight with canine pilots would have brought a salute from the late Charles M. Schulz.

Wilonsky disagreed:

Do not see Up in 3-D. It's inessential to the tale and altogether distracting.

The Choice Is Your’s!!!  But Do Take A Peek At The Gorgeous Work In This Film:

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Anna Marie (Movie Maven) Stewart ***** (Will See Again)

Ed. (Animation Freak) Dickau*****(Will See Again In 3D)

 Rosemary Stewart*****                  


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