Disney’s newly acquired animation studio Pixar certainly don’t make it easy for themselves. After fish (Finding Nemo), furry monsters (Monsters Inc), robots (Wall-E) and toys (Toy Story), what would the obvious next subject of a movie be: Grumpy old man? Hardly something young children will be able to associate with.
Carl Fredericksen is a 78 year old curmudgeon (and any film that can get us using the word curmudgeon can only be applauded!).After the death of his wife Ellie, he decides to live their lifelong dream and visit Paradise Falls in South America. Overcoming the threat of eviction, he tethers thousands of balloons to his house and takes to the skies, but is accidentally accompanied by eager wilderness explorer Russell.
It is not your typical animation, nor even typical Pixar. The laugh out loud moments are few, as are the cutesy moments. Yet as a whole, it’s as strong as anything produced since Toy Story. Only the hardest hearts will make it through the opening fifteen minutes without a lump in the throat. In a virtuoso moment of animation, Carl and Ellie’s relationship is montaged from first date to her funeral.
This may be difficult for young children. But remember even uncle Walt killed Bambi’s mum and Simba’s Dad, so there is precedence in not shying away from death and in doing so making a happy ending all the more emotional.
Before you’re worried that this is sounding a little depressing, fear not! When Carl and Russell reach Paradise Falls, they meet a long though lost explorer, a mysterious bird and a whole group of talking dogs who get easily distracted in the middle of a…squirrel…sorry sentence. The visuals are constantly inventive, although avoid 3-D, it’s not worth it.
As Carl realises that his life with Ellie was a dream come true even without their perfect trip, he begins to acknowledge living in the present. He somehow transforms into an aged Indiana Jones in the final 20 minutes – take note Harrison Ford, this is what you’ve got to live up to.
Overall Up is a great film for all the family to enjoy. Even old curmudgeons!