Up

"Very Good"

Up Review


Film critics experience varying degrees of disappointment. Terminator Salvation, for example, disappoints because it's terrible and shouldn't have been made, let alone released. The ironically titled Up, on the other hand, disappoints because it doesn't soar quite as high as its acclaimed Pixar predecessors. Holding each new Pixar flick up to such lofty expectations sounds unfair until you realize the animation factory's outstanding features routinely meet the studio's admittedly sky-high quality bar. And some -- like last year's WALL-E, a very tough act to follow -- raise the bar to even dizzier heights.

Up doesn't manage that. It's good, not great, Pixar -- an elegant and somber reflection on life's unfinished business and our tendencies to put even the biggest dreams on the shelf. And as we discovered with Cars, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, even good Pixar trumps traditional animation from rival studios, and certainly deserves your time.

As Up begins, young Carl Fredricksen sits in a movie theater absorbing newsreels about his idol, adventurer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), whose final quest takes him to South America to capture an enormous bird scientists claim doesn't exist. Carl's infatuation with Muntz -- and his unquenchable thirst for action -- leads him to fellow daredevil Ellie. For these outcasts, puppy love is the all-inclusive clubhouse for which they've been searching.

Up peaks early with a winsome, sentimental, five-minute flashback montage covering the decades Carl and Ellie spend together. Their life has highs and lows, culminating in a tearjerker of a shot that involves balloons -- the ultimate symbol of childhood exuberance -- and a casket. The sequence is vintage Pixar, humorous and heartbreaking but always advancing the story.

Up doesn't approach such emotional resonance once the main thrust of the story gets going, where Carl, now an old widower voiced by Ed Asner, ties enough balloons to his cherished house to elevate it off the ground and pilot it to South America, where he promised Ellie he'd take her so many years ago. Carl unknowingly carries a stowaway when Cub Scout Russell, an egg-shaped chatterbox voiced by Jordan Nagai, stands on the man's porch as his house lifts off. Together, they land in Paradise Falls, where Muntz and his pack of talking dogs suspect the duo of trying to steal the explorer's elusive bird (which Russell finds within minutes, luring him with chocolate and naming him Kevin).

Pete Docter (of Monsters Inc.) and Bob Peterson direct from the latter's screenplay, fashioning Up into a mature conversation about keeping one's promises. Russell routinely talks about his absentee father, who says he'll be at the badge ceremony if the boy earns his final pin for assisting the elderly. Carl promises to bring Ellie's house to Muntz's waterfall, then has to make good on a promise to take care of Russell. Even Kevin the bird needs Carl and Russell to help it get back to its hungry young, as promised.

But Peterson's script cuts corners. A conveniently placed storm helps transport Carl's house from an undetermined city to South America (he's not in Kansas anymore). It wasn't smart to have Russell find and befriend Kevin, managing in minutes what Muntz couldn't accomplish in decades. I even found myself bothered by the physics of Carl's floating house, a whimsical but impossible device that kept taking me out of the story. (I had similar problems with Remy the rat, who foolishly manipulated chef Linguini by strategically tugging his hair.) Carl's also the most nimble senior citizen I've seen since Cocoon, and he possesses the arm strength of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even the short film preceding Up, a cloud-and-stork comedy, is pleasant but unremarkable.

These nagging issues likely will float over the heads of pint-sized patrons, who will be amused by loyal Dug (Peterson), the talking dog, and enthralled by an aerial battle between Carl's crumbling abode and Muntz's powerful blimp. The aircraft is dubbed the Spirit of Adventure, by the way. I'd have been much happier if Docter and his team had instilled Up with its own adventurous spirit, however, instead of slapping the suggestive moniker on the side of a dirigible and calling it a day.

But not quite away.



Up

Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th May 2009

Box Office USA: $293.0M

Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Fresh: 275 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 8.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Jonas Rivera

Starring: André Kaminski as Anton 'Ziege' Ziegler, Jacob Matschenz as Adam 'Häschen' Hoppeczynski, Jonas Jägermeyr as Max Spackmann, Susan Hoecke as Natascha, Thorsten Feller as Hubertus, Florian Gärtner as Dicker Pförtner, Zoe Weiland as Valerie, Mareike Lindenmeyer as Ines, Sabine Kaack as Gabi, Marcus Kaloff as Klaus, David Montero as Juan, Eva Weißenborn as Frau Pakowski

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.