Review: Up

by Tom Ingram

They don’t screw around at Pixar, do they? Their lowest rated film is Cars, which is still a cut above the average movie. I don’t know who they’ve sold their souls to, but somehow year after year they churn out movies that are consistently funny, thoughtful, and poignant without being sappy. This year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar went to Pixar’s Up.

In Up, an elderly Carl Fredericksen is frustrated and bitter. After he accidentally injures a construction worker, he is required to move to a retirement home. Carl escapes this terrible fate by tying helium balloons onto his house and flying away. A local boy scout accidentally stows away on Carl’s front porch, and after a vicious storm the two of them end up in South America, in the unexplored lost world of Paradise Falls. They embark on an adventure through the jungle involving giant birds and talking dogs and, along the way, discover things about themselves and the world.

From the beginning, it was clear Up would be funny. That much could be gleaned from the trailers. But it also makes meaningful statements on the modern world, on childhood dreams, on aging and death. Up is simultaneously heartwarming and tear-jerking, through and through. I have a confession to make that might make me lose whatever macho points I have left: I was teary-eyed through this movie. Not only at the end–the whole way through. The movie beigins by showing a young, mild-mannered and slightly geeky Carl meeting the bubbly, adventure-obsessed Ellie. They end up marrying. Their lives are shown in a touching montage until they grow old. Ellie dies just before Carl takes her on a trip to South America, their childhood dream. That’s how the film starts. You can imagine how things go from there.

As always, Pixar is on top-form technically. The movie is a treat to look at. The Oscar-winning score is beautiful. The movie clocks in at just over ninety minutes, never overstaying its welcome. In all that time, I couldn’t find a single thing I didn’t like about this movie. Up is definitely the feel-good movie of 2009.