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Toon Talk: Up
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
June 1, 2009
Kirby reviews the latest Disney / Pixar animated feature Up.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt


Walt Disney Pictures / Pixar Animation Studios
MPAA Rating: PG

Up Lifting

Towards the beginning of Up, Pixars tenth feature film and their first to be screened in 3-D, there is a sequence that will surely stand as a triumph of cinematic storytelling -- animated or otherwise -- for years to come.

We have been introduced to the young Carl Fredricksen, a boy whose quietness masks a soul yearning for adventures (like those of his idol, ace explorer Charles Muntz). Carl has met his polar opposite in Ellie, a chatty tomboy who shares his dreams of a life of thrill seeking and excitement. Time goes on and, as young adults, we see the two wed and plan for their future, one that will hopefully, some day, include a home-sweet-home in some exotic locale. But, as life would have it, mundane obstacles along the way delay their plans to another day a day that, alas, never arrives for Carls beloved Ellie.

Alone and embittered, the now elderly Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) feels that the world has passed him by -- literally, as a bustling city has sprung up around him, including a pending skyscraper that threatens to engulf his very home ( la the 1952 Disney short The Little House). Yet, when push comes to shove, Carl takes a bold action to finally fulfill his promise to his dear Ellie. And here is where Up really takes off.

Launching his rickety house into the sky with a flurry of brightly colored balloons (one, one could say, for each of his hopes and dreams), Carl sets off on the adventure he has been waiting for his entire life. His destination: Paradise Falls, a near-mythical setting in the wilds of South America. However, his solitude is short-lived as he discovers an accidental stow-away on his most-unusual airship, a spirited Wilderness Explorer scout named Russell (Jordan Nagai), who is there to earn his final merit badge -- for Assisting the Elderly, no less.

As they set down south of the border, just shy of Paradise Falls, that task will now prove infinitely more challenging than merely crossing the street they now have to cross the jungle, Carls still-airborne abode in tow. Along the way, they encounter a rare giant bird, a talking dog named Dug (voiced enthusiastically, hilariously by co-director and co-writer Bob Peterson) and a ghost from Carls past, Charles Muntz himself (Christopher Plummer), who turns out to not be the hero young Carl thought him to be.

Throughout his daring adventures, the character of Carl (who resembles Spencer Tracy circa Guess Whos Coming to Dinner) becomes a most unusual -- and resilient -- action hero, a geriatric John McClane with a walker. And yet, even as outrageous and fantasy-filled as his death-defying exploits become, Up always stays grounded in reality, as strongly rooted in its rich characters as its high-flying story remains aloft.

As directed and co-written by Monsters, Inc.s Pete Docter, Up is filled with easy humor as buoyant as one of Carls balloons, enough action sequences to earn it a PG rating and plenty of tearful emotion to make it the most complex and rewarding thrill ride of this summer movie season.

Toon Talk Rating: A-

Coming Soon:

  • Blue Skys prehistoric crew is back once more in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Fox, July 1).
  • The boy wizard is back for yet another magical adventure in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner, July 15).
  • Petes Dragon returns to DVD with a special High Flying edition August 18.

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-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics

Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.

Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.

The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted June 1, 2009
-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics