Directed by: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
Premise: An animated film shown theatrically in 3-D and 2-D. An elderly man (voiced by Edward Asner) sets off to fulfill his dream of traveling the world by attaching helium balloons to his house and floating to South America. He finds that a young boy (voiced by Jordan Nagai) has stowed away and the two of them navigate together.
What Works: Up is another terrific film from Pixar. The film looks and sounds great, with Pixar’s usual attention to detail, especially in their character work. A lot of animated films rely on clichéd plotlines, but like last year’s WALL-E, Up manages to break out of the usual predictable storyline. This makes the film much more harrowing and allows it to break new story ground for the genre. The film is very funny, using physical comedy with some sarcastic dialogue and ironic visual gags that pay off for audiences of all ages. Between the humorous bits, Up gets into some fairly heavy thematic material, as its characters deal with the loss of loved ones and absentee parents and it handles this material just right, allowing its characters to learn from their adventures and reconcile their flaws and losses.
What Doesn’t: The one flaw of Up is the way it deals with the dog characters; if much of the rest of the film feels as though it were influenced by Charlie Chaplin films, the sequences with the dogs show more influence from Warner Brothers cartoons in their sense of humor and story logic. This is especially evident in the finale which gets deliberately silly and the clash of styles does not suit the film.
Bottom Line: Up is a solid piece of animation and another fine addition to Pixar’s filmography.
Episode: #242 (June 7, 2009)