“Carl’s Date,” the latest short that features Dug living his new life with Carl Fredrickson, provides the perfect coda to the Up franchise. After one of Dug’s former canine companions is adopted by a member of the senior center, the new dog owner uses the opportunity to ask Carl on a date. Carl, who has not been on a first date since he was a child, reluctantly needs advice from Dug. As we all know, dog’s know more about love than anyone.
The short is essentially perfection. It somehow meets several goals in its brief runtime. It not only serves as a final tribute to Ellie and Carl’s devotion to her but also acts as a perfect way to honor Ed Asner and his role of Carl Fredrickson. But, despite those bittersweet aspects, the short is a lot of fun and provides us with those Dug moments that can’t help but bring a smile to your face.
What has made Dug so endearing is that, while we can hear his thoughts, he is still a dog. Unlike most animated canines, he behaves as our own dogs do. We see their behaviors and instincts in Dug and that continues here even if he shares the stage with Carl a bit more than the Dug Days shorts that were previously released on Disney+. However, this short flips the script at times and allows Dug to be the straightman to Carl’s antics as he nervously prepares for his date.
Carl’s date is actually never shown, yet you don’t leave feeling that it should be. This is about Carl starting a new adventure thanks to Dug bringing him the simple advice he needs to hear, while also paying tribute to his previous adventure with Ellie. Dog owners know how our pets remind us that things we try to complicate are actually quite simple. In this short, we see how two of Carl’s loves, Ellie and Dug, have set him up to enjoy his adventure. Director Bob Peterson has done great work with shorts featuring Pixar’s most innocent characters with Forky Asks a Question and Dug Days. With “Carl’s Date,” he keeps the fun but paints with a larger palette by adding the heartfelt emotion that Pixar is known for. If I had one complaint, it is that the credits rush by so you don’t get the chance to appreciate the artists and craftsmen who created the short nor have a time to reset your emotions before going on the next journey with Elemental.
“Carl’s Date” is the perfect epilogue to the Up story. It is crafted to provide the emotional transition and the fun you would expect. While this may be the end of Carl’s adventures, I can only hope that Dug will continue to pop up from time to time in other ways.
I give Carl’s Date 5 out of 5, as it is a Pixar short classic.