Up

 

Disney•Pixar

 

PG

 

Plot Summary: An elderly man decides to fulfill his life’s ambition for adventure by setting sail in his house, bolstered by balloons, to South America.

 

Reason for the Rating: Some peril and action

 

Carl (Ed Asner) and his wife Ellie always intended to lead a life of adventure, like the intrepid men they watched on the newsreels, but something always got in the way. Instead of whisking to far-off places, they grow grey together, leading a happy and quiet life. But when Ellie passes away, Carl finds himself in a world where everything seems to be changing and the only sure thing seems to be the Shady Acres retirement home.

 

Instead of giving in to the seemingly inevitable, Carl decides to finally take that adventure his wife dreamt of, to plant their home on Paradise Falls in South America. He attaches thousands of balloons to his creaky old home, and up they go, off to the unknown. A Wilderness Explorer scout, Russell (Jordan Nagai), has accidentally hitched a ride on the house, and together they find their way to South America where they find a talking dog, an exotic bird (named Kevin) who loves chocolate, and Paradise Falls.

 

But Alfred Munz (Christopher Plummer), the bold explorer who first fueled Carl’s love for adventure and this particular paradise, is still lurking there. He’s trained an army of dogs (equipped with talking collars) to hunt and find the elusive bird that has now become Russell’s pet. Carl must make the choice between his dream of planting his creaky old home on the waterfall, and saving Kevin and Russell from the maniacal Munz.

 

Up is as skillfully created as we expect from Pixar. Like The Incredibles, Wall-E, and Finding Nemo, it’s surprising and beautiful. Pixar loves stories, and it shows. The plot is carefully considered, the pace is fast but not frenetic, the characters are endearing and engaging. (Even a bird that can’t talk is more lovable and engaging than the main characters in most kids’ movies.)

 

And while there are funny dogs and silly birds to engage the kids, the primary theme of Up is very adult: A man dealing with the loss of his wife and moving on to the next adventure. The first ten minutes of the movie, a montage of Carl and Ellie’s life together are poignant and beautiful, and perhaps the pinnacle of the movie.

 

Pixar has created such a high standard for its movies, that one can’t help but compare them. Even while Up shames other kid movies of its time, it somehow doesn’t seem as epic (to me) as their other tales thus far. It’s a story well told, but one that didn’t grab my heart as much as the others. That said, it still is a whimsical and wonderful movie.

 

A fun film for the kids and a thoughtful movie for the adults, Up is excellently done and well worth your time.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• What is one great adventure you’d like to go on?

 

• At one point, Carl chose to save his own house instead of protecting Kevin. Have you ever had to make a choice like this—choosing between protecting your own interests or someone else? What did you do?

 

• Why do you think Carl chose to go with Russell instead of staying at the falls?

 

--AV

 

Note: All movie-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective movie studios. 

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