May 28, 2009, - 12:25 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Even if you don’t have kids or a family, “Up” is a movie you must see. If you do have kids, this Disney/Pixar flick is a great family viewing experience.
The movie is the best animated picture I’ve seen since “WALL-E” (read my review), with “Coraline” a close third (though that one is too creepy for young kids–read my review).
It’s not just the animation in this, which is so real that the fifties-style movie news clips at the beginning look like the real thing. It’s the charming story, which has everything–action, adventure, a young kid, an old man, talking dogs, a flying house kept in the air by balloons, a Charles Hughes-esque adventurer, and a peacock/ostrich combo bird. I just can’t say enough good things about this fun, enjoyable, escapist experience. It’s relaxing, entertaining, and full of imagination, the way movies–animated or not–are supposed to be. The story is timeless, but it sort of reminds you of the great movies they used to make.
The movie begins with a young kid, Carl, who marvels at the movies, seeing clips of his hero, Charles Muntz, an explorer/adventurer. Soon he meets a tomboy girl, Ellie, who shares his interest in adventure. They meet in a ramshackle abandoned house down his street. They grow up, fall in love, and get married, always saving for Ellie’s dream of moving to a South American paradise. They’ve renovated the ramshackle home where they met as their home.
But time goes by, they grow old, and Ellie dies before they realize their dream–her dream. (I thought that part was a little sad for kids, but it’s a very minor, brief part of the movie.) Soon, Carl finds himself a grumpy old man in his home, which is now surrounded by construction of a condo development. Rather than get hauled off to a nursing home, he attaches helium balloons to his home, in the hope of traveling to his and Ellie’s paradise. But he discovers that a boy scout seeking a “help the elderly” badge is stuck in his floating house.
Eventually, Carl and the boy scout find themselves in South America, right near the paradise Carl was seeking. And that’s where the real adventure begins. I don’t want to say more, lest I give away the story. But I guarantee you’ll be captured by its charm and cuteness. It’s also very funny.
If I had any reservation with “Up,” it’s that Carl is voiced by far-left activist Ed Asner. (In the ’80s, my father and Asner had a public fight in the press over Asner’s fundraising letters for a far-left Western Michigan Congressman, citing his Jewishness. My dear father, a recipient of the letter, responded with a letter of his own to Asner supporting the Congressman’s conservative Republican opponent, and it became a national news story. My dad told Ed Asner where to go, and Asner was too cowardly to respond.)
But there are other greats who voice the characters in the movie. The great Christopher Plummer plays explorer Charles Muntz. And John Ratzenberger of “Cheers” fame is the instantly recognizable voice of a construction foreman.
As I noted, the animation in this is phenomenal (and I didn’t even see it in 3D, though there are some theaters showing it that way). It’s lifelike. And the characters are very realistic (well, maybe not the talking dogs, who are also master chefs, etc.) and cute.
And at just over an hour and a half (it’s 96 minutes including credits), it’s the perfect length. Plus, as a bonus, there are cute, entertaining cartoon shorts preceding the movie. Also enjoyable and funny.
Don’t miss this. And don’t wait for it on DVD. This is a movie you should see on the big screen.