Pixar’s latest will lift you Up

2009-09-14 00:00

I CAN’T think of when last a story was told with such skill and imagination (visually or narratively) as is the case of Up. I wish I hadn’t agreed to do this film review … it’s easy to slag off two hours of gumph; it is infinitely more difficult to write something of equal stature to the poignancy of Pixar’s latest offering. As a budding animator, I have grown to appreciate the astonishing works of Pixar and Dreamworks, but this film, oh esteemed readers, is in a whole new stratosphere.

Up begins with the back-story (just as in Wall-E and The Incredibles) of Carl Fredrickson: a plump, bespectacled young boy whose fascination with exploration and adventure is complemented by Ellie, a gapped-toothed redhead he meets on the way home.

What follows is an exquisitely manufactured, unspoken, four-minute sequence that captures the couple’s lifetime of hopes, heartbreaks and dreams.

The story then continues 70 years later, when Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) finds himself cornered by encroaching development and, as a result, decides to strap his home to helium balloons and fulfil a childhood promise to his late wife. The stowaway is Russell (newcomer Jordan Nagai), an eight-year-old “Wilderness Explorer”, whose remaining badge to collect in the wilderness school he attends is to be earned by helping an elderly person. And so begins the inter-generational relationship which remains delightful and entertaining throughout the film. The duo are joined by some charismatic creatures — a colourful bird named Kevin and dof but loveable dog named Dug. The group battles the odds as well as a rogue bunch of dogs whose master turns out to be Carl’s childhood hero, but it turns out his idol has a sinister side which involves his own plans for Kevin, a rare bird.

Pixar’s films succeed because of the storytelling. With this, the company’s 10th film, Pixar has gone from creating a good story with a couple of punchy one-liners and “wow” moments to something that is both surprising at every turn, immensely entertaining and deeply meaningful on multiple levels.

It is an exquisitely told tale of loneliness and the redemptive power of human connection which in the end is upbeat, lively and beautiful.

Up lives up to its name on every level, and as such, it’s difficult to find anything wrong with it.

*****

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