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Up (2009)

Rating: 10/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U

I didn’t think Up looked all that great—some old guy floating around with a fat kid in a house being carried by balloons. It seemed like it had potential as a short, but as a full-length feature? And really, how was Pixar going to follow WALL-E with anything even close to as good? Well, remind me to quit doubting—come on, they’ve put out nine great films thus far (I don’t count Cars), and they always seem to do it with the most unlikely of characters.

Carl Fredrickson (voice of Ed Asner) is a recent widower who is faced with the prospect of losing his beloved home and being forced into a retirement facility. Well, Carl does what any elderly wannabe adventurer would do and ties enough helium-filled balloons to his house to get it off the ground, managing to float away on a journey to South America. What Carl didn’t expect, though, is that an eight-year-old “Wilderness Explorer” named Russell would have stowed away, or that his simple balloon plan would lead him and Russell on such a life-altering adventure.

If you’ve heard anything about this film, you’ve probably heard about the opening montage of Carl’s memories with late wife Ellie. I cried like a little girl—which, oddly enough, doesn’t detract in the least from the joy and laughter to follow. As always, Pixar delivers on the stunning visuals (I saw the non-3D version, but the color and animation is so beautifully rendered I didn’t even care), but what’s so nice is that, while being decidedly Pixar, it manages to also have a totally unique look. Asner is the epitome of old man voice and doesn’t really come off so much as the “grumpy old guy” seen in the commercials as just a man who’s lived a long time who has to now face life without the woman he loves. Lest the film start to sound like some maudlin introspection on aging, however, it’s not. Kids may not fully grasp the themes of mortality and the like, but they’ll love Dug the dog (I hope my dog “sounds” just like him) and Kevin the bird—and don’t estimate your kids’ ability to spot quality in a film. Up doesn’t ever veer into clichés, “adult” innuendo, or preachy social lessons, choosing instead to take the novel approach of crafting memorable characters (more developed than most “real” movie folk) and allowing those characters to tell a classic story. It’s almost boring at this point to keep writing, because I have nothing but praise for this gem of a movie, so really, I’ll just stop so you can quit reading and go see it.

It's Got: Beautiful animation, great story, Ed Asner.

It Needs: Nothing.


Should’ve known a studio that’s made us love a robot with no dialogue and rat living in a kitchen could make a story out of anything, but I had no idea they could make me cry, laugh, and feel as happy as I did with Up.