D: Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson. W: Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson (w/ Thomas McCarthy also contributing to the story). Starring (voice): Edward Asner/Jordan Nagai/Christopher Plummer/Bob Peterson.
Pixar’s newest addition to their animation vault enlists all that classic Walt Disney has mastered; winsomeness, sorrow, inventiveness, fresh cleverness and iconic imagery that will surpass the the film’s immediate success. Just like our beloved Woody and Buz, Dori and Wall-E, Carl (Asner) will be added to Pixar’s group of strong and unforgettable characters. Along with him will be the lonely yet uplifting image of his little house strung up with hundreds of balloons, floating upwards into the sky. Like Disney gave us Alice with her Cheshire Cat, Ariel on her rock or Lady with her Tramp and a meatball, Pixar has taken over the childrens’ animation world with such flawlessness and appeal to adults that it is no surprise that their films are continuing to spark debate with the Academy about the inclusion of animated films amidst the rest of the nominees. More on that as this coming Oscar season unfolds…
What is to be discussed now is UP‘s ability to juxtapose tragedy and opportunity, dreams and reality, and new life and old life. And what the film does is not merely set these opposites up, but rather incorporates learning the possibilities in each set, what can be gained, learned or forgotten from each. Adventure can be found no matter your age, spirit or aptitude, we are not limited to the things we think that bind us. And this is exemplified in both Carl and his young adventuring companion, Russell (Nagai). Both of whom are re-associating themselves into their worlds after major changes have happened.
Yet despite the depth of UP‘s story it remains well paced, energetic and entertaining until the last frame. A brilliant and poignant score by Michael Giancchino maintains the films thread of sweetness and charm and adds such refinement to the film that is often lacking in other work supposed aimed at children. There are little gimmicks here, no pop culture dependent jokes or cliche childish references. What there is, of course, is an opening with tragedy, missing parents and unlikely friendships, all which now define the Disney/Pixar diagesis. But, Giancchino’s music supports the film’s montages so well that one almost could go without dialogue (much like last year’s Wall-E whose first half an hour is without dialogue). And without words you shall be. And if you are lucky to see it in 3D you will have an even better feeling of what great cinema is about.
(Make sure to arrive promptly as you would not want to miss the short tha precedes UP. So simple yet more clever and entertaining than most features out today).