Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I wonder how other animation studios feel when they put together a great, well animated film with big-name voice talent and a multi-million dollar ad campaign. They are a lock for one of those Oscar nominations for best animated feature. They pick a great release date in late summer on a holiday weekend. It's going to be a great year.

Then someone tells them that Pixar is releasing a new film. It's about a lonely old man missing his departed wife who uses an incredible amount of balloons to float his house away from society and take one last grand adventure. He picks up a stowaway scout, a talking dog and a rare bird (none of which are wanted but loveable) and gets that adventure in a roundabout way. It's funny, heartwarming and of course the CG animation is spectacular. will also make pretty much any viewer weep within the first ten minutes.

Those other studios just sigh and go about their business. Pixar will win the Oscar, the box-office and the kudos yet again.

Up isn't as obviously a masterpiece like their last venture, WALL-E, not as exciting family-fun as The Incredibles or even as funny as Toy Story, but it's still another fine entry in their by now iconic neo-legacy. Despite their occasional conflicts, Disney should be proud of their acquisition as it has led to a surge in beloved animated features on par (and maybe, dare I say it, greater) than their classics of the mid-20th century or the 1990s.

Ed Asner is the voice of cranky Carl, fed up with the bussling world around him and determined to leave it. He longs to seek out a place he dreamed of visiting with his dear wife since they were children. Finally making his dream come true doesn't pan out as planned when eager young Russell ends up on the porch of his airborne home. Soon they are tangled up in a plot involving another adventurer (voiced by Christopher Plummer), long a hero of Carl's and his quest for a creature he never managed to capture.

Up is fast-paced, funny and an intentional tear-jerker. It's not the best of Pixar's canon, but even their "lesser" films are top-notch adventures that satisfy and impress.

Rating: B+

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