Directed by Pete Docter.
Written by Bob Peterson and Pete Docter.
Starring the voices of Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson and
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 6/13/09
I think it's safe to say that Pixar has this
digitally-animated feature film thing figured out. In looking
at the company's body of work over the last dozen years, all of the
films have been decent (even if I didn't love
and with "Toy
Story 2", "WALL-E"
and now "Up", I've been really impressed with how well Pixar makes
movies, not just family films.
In "Up", the first ten minutes of the film
set up the life of 78-year-old widower Carl Fredrickson (voiced by
Ed Asner), and even that tragedy is told so very well with not a
word of dialogue after Carl marries his sweetheart Ellie. In
present-day California--this is not mentioned by name but there are
clues visible to those living in the Bay Area--Carl is living in the
same house he's lived in for years, but naturally contractors are
moving in on the surrounding land and they want Carl outta there.
One day, after an accident strips the house of the mailbox Carl and
Ellie added years ago, Carl decides he has had enough...and, making
good on a promise to take Ellie to South America, he strings
together thousands of helium balloons and ties them to his roof, and
just like that, the balloons lift Carl's old home out of the
projects and into the sky...with a Cub Scout-like stowaway named
Russell (Jordan Nagai) standing scared on the porch when the house
gets airborne. The odd couple adventure their way south and
encounter loads of trouble along the way.
"Up" isn't as--for lack of a better
term--fantastic as some of the other dynamic plots that Pixar has
come up with in their films, like talking cars, the secret lives of
toys or even a rat who can cook. Although there are some
fantasy elements once Russell and Carl get to South America, they
are grounded in some real-world concepts and borrow heavily from
movies like, say, "Star Wars" or "Planet of the Apes" in telling
their story of a madman (voiced by Christopher Plummer) who has been
searching for a mystical peacock for the last 70 years. That's
all to say that "Up" is like some of the other films I have seen
this year in that it essentially takes an idea you know fairly well
(although it is disguised well in the balloon house concept) and
just does a solid job of presenting the material. The voice
work is solid, the score is solid, the animation is solid, and even
in 3-D, it was good but the 3-D work wasn't eye-popping. The
emotional moments in the first ten minutes are very well told, but
the film's final 20 minutes was not a major highlight.
In fact, I thought all of this, and I'm an
adult...it sounded like the kids in my theater enjoyed themselves
(talking dogs push the film's second half for kids), but I wonder if
they really loved "Up." Maybe they were amused by a fistfight
between two 80-year-olds; maybe they were amused by the antics of
Russell, since he is a young boy. But, while I'm sure most
young children would like "Up", I'm not sure if 8-year-olds and
above would like the movie as much...I thought there was a decent
amount of Carl and Russell walking around in the jungle pulling
their house by a rope, which might be yawn territory for a kid.
As good as the last few Pixar films have
been, none of them has touched "Toy Story 2" yet...which, is fine,
since "Toy Story 3" is the Pixar entry due next June.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard