I want to be completely open and honest with you from the beginning, and make sure we are all on the same page. I am a big fan of animated films; especially the ones produced by Pixar, and I absolutely loved their last outing, Wall-E. The bar for this film was incredibly high. I was fully expecting Up to be good and enjoyable, but nothing particularly special, especially from the trailers I saw beforehand. I am more than happy to say that Up exceeded these high expectations. I left the cinema feeling elated and at a couple of times during the film I was even moved to tears. But more on that later…
The director, Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.), has crafted a sublime film, rich with humour, emotion and action. I was riveted to the screen throughout, and was both sad and pleased when it came to an end. Sad that I couldn’t watch anymore, but pleased I had seen such a great film. Just to give a bit of background, Carl Fredrickson (played brilliantly by Edward Asner), is a seemingly grumpy old man, newly widowed, wanting to be left to his own devices. Newcomer Jordan Nagai plays ‘Wilderness Explorer’ Russell, a young boy who gets dragged along on the adventure. Carl decides to fulfil his deceased wife’s wishes, and go to Paradise Falls in Venezuela. To get there, Carl attaches hundreds of balloons to his house, and literally flies there. What follows is a brilliantly produced tale and without giving too much away, the ending is perfectly balanced, and leaves the viewer content.
I mentioned being moved to tears, arguably over a kids’ film, but I said this with no exaggeration. The opening ten minutes are a perfectly paced drama, and if the acting was live action and not pixels, I would even go so far as to say that it was Oscar-worthy. There is a scene near the beginning that carried an enormous emotional punch that I have not encountered before with an animated film. The film never strays too far from what it essentially is; a kids film. But the filmmakers don’t forget their adult audience and have a deep emotional thread running through the entire picture alongside the trademark Pixar humour.
Talking briefly about the humour, the jokes are mainly provided by Dug, a talking golden retriever, who provided some genuine laugh out loud moments. Without giving too much away, I shall be yelling “Point!” at random people for weeks to come.
One hiccup for me is the character of Russell. Carl and Dug are fantastic to watch, Carl providing emotional poignancy and Dug providing the belly laughs; but Russell just feels like the forced ‘kid’ character that the film makers have crow barred in, and his insistence on always being good, no matter what, began to grate on me towards the second half. I recognise the necessity for him, but I feel that they could have made the character a bit more rounded, and not quite as annoying.
In all, Up was an amazingly crafted 90 minutes for me, providing plenty of laughs, fantastic vistas, and the occasional teary moment. I could not give this any higher recommendation and I insist that you all go and see it. Preferably now.