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'Up' Movie Review

An Animated Movie That's Impossible Not to Love

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating
User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (15 Reviews)


Up Movie Review

Dug, Kevin, Russell and Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) in 'Up.'

© Disney/Pixar
How does Pixar continue to do it? 'It' being put out quality films that spring from simple, straightforward stories that are designed to engage all age groups, aren't offensive, are entertaining, gorgeous to behold, and don't disappear from your memory 10 minutes after you exit the theater. With each new release Pixar manages to best itself even when it seems doing so would be an impossibility. Pixar's ninth film, WALL-E, set the bar high but somehow, someway, Up manages to top it - a task I personally never thought they'd be able to accomplish.
I mean come on! Up's the story of an old man who ties balloons to his house. He looks grumpy, I can't relate to him, and just an old guy floating off in space isn't exactly the most compelling premise I can think of for an animated movie. Yet within 5 minutes, maybe even less, Up pulled me in and I never wanted the movie to end. The same thing happened with WALL-E. A lonely robot left on the planet has to clean up garbage and that's supposed to be entertaining? I said, "That'll never work." Yes, I ate those words. I'll happily munch on some more after doubting Pixar could make me like a grouchy senior citizen who dreams of adventures in a far-off land.

The Story

We first meet up with Carl Fredericksen as a young boy who dreams of being an adventurer as he watches newsreel footage of explorer Charles Muntz. Carl's quiet and sort of shy, but his love of Muntz leads him to Ellie, a sassy little girl who is as outgoing as Carl is introverted. They make for a great team and in fact will go on to share their lives together. From elementary school through high school and on up into adulthood, Carl and Ellie are inseparable, sharing every moment of joy and sadness together while dreaming of a time when they can actually take off on an adventure in the wilds of South America just like their hero, Muntz. But jobs and health issues and whatnot have a way of intruding on dreams, and Carl and Ellie grow old never having visited the South American jungles. And then, sadly, Carl becomes a widower with just his lovely little house and his beautiful memories of Ellie to keep him company.


Carl Fredericksen in his flying house in 'Up.'

© Disney/Pixar
Writer/directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson tell us all this in no more than the first 20 minutes of Up. So much backstory crammed into such a small time frame - they should teach other filmmakers how to accomplish this with as much integrity and finesse as they display here.

Unfortunately, Carl's home is right in the path of new construction. Unable to stand up legally to those who want to level his house, Carl finds the perfect way to keep his home intact. He'll kill two birds with one stone. He wants to visit South America before it's too late and he needs to remove his house from its current location. The solution: ties thousands of helium-filled balloons to his roof and float away. He's even rigged up a way to steer.

But Carl fails to take into consideration the persistent presence of an overly helpful Wilderness Explorer scout named Russell. Russell didn't know of Carl's planned getaway and was on the porch when Carl's house lifted off. With no way to put the house down and South America set as his goal, Carl and Russell become unlikely traveling companions. Touching down just short of his target landing spot - Paradise Falls - Carl and Russell must walk the house (with balloons still attached) a mile or two to the perfect spot.

On the way to the house's final resting spot they meet up with a huge exotic bird Russell names Kevin (why? who knows) and a super friendly dog named Dug (not Doug). Dug's wearing a fancy collar that allows his thoughts to be translated into English, a plot device that's so incredibly funny that Dug deserves a film all to himself. Dug's mind works about how you'd expect a canine's thought process to, with lots of happy thoughts interrupted often by shouts of Squirrel!

So, now they're in South America and all is as it's supposed to be, right? Nope. There's danger lurking around every corner for poor Kevin, and it's up to Carl, Russell, and Dug to keep the rare bird safe.

The Bottom Line

What can be said of Pixar's animation that hasn't already been said time and time again? It's dazzling, simply stunning to take in, and so incredibly beautiful you forget you're watching an animated film and instead just lose yourself in an amazing adventure. From dog hair to bird feathers to the humans in Up to the 10,000 balloons that hold up Carl's home, Up animators have surprised us once again by surpassing the quality and beauty of every previous Pixar film. And let's face it, Pixar is the standard bearer for this medium. They do it better than every other studio out there, and that's because they never sacrifice character development for cute/fancy animated tricks. They don't play down to kids, they don't take shortcuts in plot development, and they are able to get you emotionally involved and invested in animated characters in a way their competitors have never been able to duplicate.


Kevin, Russell, Dug and Carl in 'Up.'

© Disney/Pixar
Up plays on your heartstrings and there are one or two scenes which may have you grabbing for a tissue. I'm not joking about that. It got to me and I don't get emotional about a film unless an animal dies (no, that's not what happens in Up). And speaking of animals, dog lovers are going to go crazy over Dug. He's an adorable little guy who's brave and loyal and is sure to remind you of your own furry best friend.

Up is storytelling at its best. The adventure film takes audiences through the full spectrum of emotions, with action and thrills mixed with comedy and suspense. A sure lock on an animated film Oscar nod, Up delivers a wondrous world filled with people and creatures you'll fall head over heels in love with. Up earns a spot as one of the best films of the year, and not just in the animated category.


Up was directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson and is rated PG for some peril and action.

Theatrical Release Date: May 29, 2009

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Up, Member 19Hillary19

A young boy called Fredrickson meets an adventure girl and a cheerful girl named Ellie.They both dream about build a house in paradise falls,south America.When they both old,Ellie died.Then in accident,Mr.Fredrickson hits a construction worker that damage his mail box.Because of that,he must move to a retirement house.Before they take him,he and his house fly away!A small boy named Russell whose trying to get an assisting eldery badge.So,he join the adventure.they stop in a forest.In there,Russell meets a bird and he named it Kevin.They all find Paradise falls.The cool part is at the end.So you need to watch this movie.I really say 2 thumbs up for this movie.Because there are a lot of funny things! I hope you can watch this movie.

42 out of 54 people found this helpful.

See all 15 reviews

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