Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"UP" Review

I laughed, I cried; Ooh'd and Ahh'd...

UP transported me to a magical place from my early childhood when my parents gifted me with my very first Uber-Deluxe Crayola Crayon box (36+). I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Watching UP in Disney Digital 3D brought back those memories of childhood bliss. UP's 3D experience let's you reach out and fluff those puffy clouds; hike through the fragrant, colorful, exotic South American rainforest; and admire Kevin's sumptuous rainbow colored feathers. Ah yes Kevin, the towering prehistoric tropical bird who boasts plumage so colorful even 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' would turn green with envy. Russell the Explorer thinks Kevin is a boy, but he turns out to be a girl. Surprise! Pixar is sending a subtle positive message to today's kids. Don't judge a package by its cover. A subtle, timely LGBT message to coincide with Prop 8? Perhaps.

UP is a comedy-adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, (Ed Azner) who finally fulfills his life dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to South America. Little does he know, his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 8 year old Wilderness Explorer named Russell (Jordan Nagai). From the Academy Award-winning nominated direct Pete Doctor (Monsters, Inc) Disney Pixar's UP invites you on a hilarious journey into a lost world.

Pixar's characters are so real I completely lost myself in the movie and totally forgot it was animated. The story is told in two parts. The opening part is a touching and sweet romantic story where two children meet and create an adventurers club based on the exploits and adventures of their hero Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer). Young Carl (Ed Azner) and Ellie (Elie Docter) fall in love, get married, dream of an adventure in Paradise Falls, South America (like their hero Muntz) and then share the disappointment of finding out they can't have children. They grow old together, Ellie passes away and leaves a tired old Carl Fredricksen behind.

The second part opens with Carl living in the old house which is in the middle of a major construction zone. Carl is going to be forcibly taken to a retirement home after an altercation with one of the construction workers. On that day Carl releases thousands of colorful helium-filled balloons that uproot the house from its foundation and he floats away into the sky.

Carl soon learns 8 year old Russell, who was bugging him earlier at the door in an effort to get his "helping the elderly" merit badge, is an accidental stowaway on the floating house. Earlier, Carl sent Russell off on a wild goose chase in search of the "Snipe" that's been bothering him. They fly through a scary storm and arrive at Paradise Falls. They encounter Kevin a towering, colorful, goofy looking bird and Dug (Bob Peterson), a dog with a computer collar that enables him to speak.

Shortly afterwards they encounter Charles Muntz who has lived in Paradise Falls for decades with a large pack of dogs (all with voice collars). He is obsessed with finding a living giant bird to prove he wasn't a crackpot. Of course that bird is non other than Kevin!

The adventure begins! The hilarious talking dogs, the Cone of Shame, and Russell the "Small Mailman" (as the dugs refer to him), will make you laugh out loud. I teared up several times too. A nice balance.

I highly recommend you see this gem of a film, and in 3D if possible. I'll even go so far as to say I believe it will win an Oscar in the Animated Feature category.

Cannes Film Festival 2009: "Up" Party
"Up" Party, Carlton Beach
62nd International Cannes Film Festival on May 13, 2009
(Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

John Lasseter and wife

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