Sunday, January 24, 2010


Up (Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, 2009) [9]

While not quite leaning on the auteurist side of thing like Ratatouille and WALL*E, Up may be the most sincere, funniest, and most entertaining film Pixar has produced. It's really the first Pixar film to focus primarily on human characters, and yet the film has heavy elements of fantasy and adventure, which to say the least, test the waters of believability. That the film can move through its variety of action and adventure and still connect with an audience on a human emotional level is its greatest testament. Up focuses on Carl Fredrickson (voiced by Ed Asner), who we see from an adventure loving young boy to his long marriage to his wife, Ellie, to her death, to Fredrickson being alone, his home engulfed by commercial development. The first ten minutes of the film, which tell Carl and Ellie's backstory, is the best work Pixar has ever done and are the best moments of anything I've seen from a 2009 release. It's emotionally resonant and it does it all with a minimum of explanation. It's a bit of real life that feels a bit out of place with the rest of the film, the only reason I didn't give this a 10. The rest of the film follows Carl, his house, and an interloping child, Russell, head for Paradise Falls, Carl and Ellie's dream destination. There, they run into Carl's childhood explorer hero, who has been in the falls attempting to capture a bird that ruined his career. The story is a mix of old adventure serials, fantasy, and humor (the scenes with the dogs are sure to get laughs out of any dog lover). Through all of it, there's still real character development as Carl starts to become a father figure to Russell, and while their relationship may be nothing that couldn't come out of a Spielberg picture, it still roped me in. The animation may have a lot to do with it. The vibrant color scheme as well numerous sequences where the action looked like live action show how advanced Pixar has become in making superb animation. That they consistently put out quality stories to go with that animation (this will be the 3rd consecutive Pixar film to make a top ten list for a particular year), only makes this as well as all they do so remarkable.

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