‘Up’* (2009)

up_poster1 Pixar’s tenth film in 15 years, ‘Up’ charms with its tale of Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner (voice)), an old man befuddled and disgusted by the changes around him, and Russell (Jordan Nagai (voice)), a wilderness scout bent on earning his last badge for “assisting the elderly.”

Threatened with the forcible removal from his house, the last remaining one in the midst of a high-rise construction zone, Carl takes the drastic step of attaching thousands of helium balloons to his house so he can fly off in search of the adventure he and his beloved departed wife Ellie never got to take, the journey to Paradise Falls in the footsteps, or should I say dirigible trail, of famed explorer Charles Munz (Christopher Plummer (voice)).  Munz, disgraced after he returned with the skeleton of a bird that scientists later accused him of assembling from unrelated  bones set off for Paradise Falls when Carl and Ellie were just kids vowing to prove he was not a fraud.

After discovering unintentional stowaway Russell, whom Carl had previously sent literally on a snipe hunt, and some encounters with dangerous weather, Carl and Russell find themselves in Paradise Falls and towing Carl’s house to just the point Ellie had envisioned.

During the course of their journey, the mismatched pair runs into Doug (Bob Peterson (voice)), one of Munz’ dogs outfitted with a collar that translates his thoughts, as well as a specimen of the  bird, whom Russell names Kevin, Munz has been hunting all these years.

The core of this film isn’t Pixar’s stunning, as usual, animation, nor is it the plot.  No, what makes ‘Up’ a good film is character development.  Both Carl and Russell unintentionally end up on a journey that brings them more connection with the world around them and with a way of living that makes them happy rather than the way of living that has become accustomed (Carl) or what is seen as expected (Russell).

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

* Note: While Pixar released this film in 3-D the showing I saw was standard projection.

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