Pixar Releases Up and Away

Swine Flu
Photo Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios & Walt Disney Pictures.

By Broadside Staff Writer Ross Bonaime

After last summer’s WALL-E, it was hard to imagine that any Pixar film would be as emotional, heartbreaking and gorgeous as the little worker robot that could. But with Up, all those fears are put to rest.

At the age of 78, Carl Fredricksen, voiced by Ed Asner, is exhausted with the world around him. After losing his wife, whom he has loved since he was a child, he just wants to be left alone in his home that reminds him of her. As children, they grew up loving the same explorer, Charles Muntz, and promised each other that one day, they would go to the last place Muntz was ever seen—South America. Unfortunately, they never got that chance.

With buildings being constructed around him, he is the only old thing left in a metropolis overrun with smoothie shops and tanning salons. He is easily annoyed by the businessmen trying to purchase his land and by the wilderness explorer, Russell, who wants to help him across the road to get his final merit badge.

After one of the nearby workmen building another monstrosity accidentally knocks over his mailbox, a perturbed Carl hits the man with his walker. Carl is ordered to immediately relocate to a nursing home. When the people from the nursing home arrive to pick Carl up, he has rigged his house to fly away thanks to the thousands of balloons he attached the night before. With Carl all alone on his destination to keep his promise to his wife, he finds himself accidentally stuck with Russell as he makes his voyage.

At the beginning of the film, Up is able to show an entire relationship filled with love and compassion in a montage of merely a few minutes that is one of the most warm and passionate scenes in a film all this year. Instantly, it can be seen that Up is different from most other Pixar films.

Up deals with some heavy issues for an animated film. The film forces viewers to deal with death and the memories of lost loved ones perfectly.

But while Up does have some of the most tender scenes you will see in an animated film, it is also one of the funniest. Up has some of the broadest comedy ever seen in a Pixar film, thanks to Kevin, an awkwardly tall tropical bird that will eat anything he can find, and Dug, a dog with a collar that allows him to speak English, albeit not necessarily grammatically correct.

Like director Pete Docter’s other Pixar film, Monsters Inc., Up always has a sense of underlying melancholy to the story. Carl’s trek is a meaningful one to him and his devotion to keep his promise to his wife always feels very important and beautiful. Docter almost underused the animation here to make these moments and characters real and incredibly touching.

What makes Up different from other Pixar films is this ability to take characters and emotions and make them just as moving as if they were real. Carl is as strong a character as Pixar has ever made, reminiscent of a shorter version of Spencer Tracy in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Pixar shows that it still has many tricks up its already bursting sleeves and they seem to show no sign of stopping their upward climb anytime soon.

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