Let “Up” take you where few films can
Pixar has no interest in making kiddie films. That has become increasingly obvious with the Disney animation studios’ complex emotional undertones in a film like “The Incredibles” or in the stunningly quiet first hour of “Wall-E.”
But Pixar’s latest film, “Up” quite literally ups the ante with a prologue that aims squarely at the lump-in-your-throat jugular. “Up” brazenly refutes any previous mass-market animated movie formula by getting your tear ducts working in its first 12 minutes setting the stage for one of the most flawless pieces of filmmaking you are likely to see anytime soon.
The sensitive opening chronicles seven decades in the life of childhood sweethearts Carl and Ellie who both dream of adventure and share an affection for their hero, aviator/explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer).
The loving couple always aspired to a far away home in Paradise Falls above the lavish jungles in Venezuela. Now alone, 78 year-old curmudgeon, Carl (Ed Asner) is determined to escape the trappings of the big city construction project which dooms his memory-filled home and concocts a method to jettison the domicile towards South America.
What transpires is a wondrous and unpredictable journey involving Carl and his chubby, accidental passenger, Russell (Jordan Nagai) the wilderness scout seeking his “assist-the-elderly” badge who offers endless moments of tender and hilarious implacability.
Other sidekicks are introduced once the house lands in the wild and the film begins its more formulaic but never unimaginative or overly rushed chase-and-escape series of plot turns.
One secret to Pixar’s success here is how the filmmakers scrutinize every detail, rarely going for the obvious, (an unexpected villain with a lead Doberman that would be menacing save a humorous vocal defect) and never belaboring any joke. Credit director Pete Docter (“Wall-E,” “Monsters, Inc.”) and fellow writer Bob Peterson (“The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo”) whose boundless creativity coupled with the seasoned talent at Pixar have produced another instant classic.
The 3-D version is worthwhile but the lack of 3-D effects, actually somewhat subdued in this particular film, in no way diminishes the 2-D version which is still a must-see-whatever the format.
Rated PG for some peril and action.