"Up, Up and Away!"
Voices of Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer
Directed by Pete Docter
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How the heck does Pixar do it?
After nine straight perfect (or, at least, near-perfect) box office hits starting in 1995 with "Toy Story," the groundbreaking computer-animated division of Disney is about due for its first turkey. In fact, some industry pundits are counting on it to happen sooner or later, just so they can pounce on it.
Looks like they'll have to keep waiting, because their latest effort, "Up," stands alongside the likes of "Toy Story 2," "Finding Nemo," and "WALL-E" as yet another brilliant gem and instant classic. It's actually quite incredible how imaginative and visually stunning the Pixar movies continue to be, especially at a time when the Hollywood studios are too wrapped up in remakes, sequels and adaptations to be developing original material.
And "Up" is nothing if not wildly original. When the longtime wife of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) passes away, he ties thousands of balloons to his house and takes off for South America in an effort to realize her lifelong dream. Tagging along for the ride are Russell (Jordan Nagai), a vibrant 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer, and Dug (Bob Peterson), a lovable golden mutt with a remarkable collar. Together, they soon discover that you're never too young – or too old – to start a new adventure and make new friends.
Directed by Pete Docter (2001's "Monsters, Inc.") and written by Docter with Bob Peterson (2003's "Finding Nemo"), "Up" effortlessly blends the heartfelt intimacy of Walt Disney with the imaginative wonder of Hayao Miyazaki ("Spirited Away"). With little dialogue, the entire span of Carl's marriage is sensitively played out within the first 8 minutes, while his adventures with Russell and Dug are so exciting, funny and far-out that you simply won't believe your eyes.
But like "WALL-E" and "Ratatouille," "Up" might be more for grown-ups than it is for kids. While dragging their house through the South American jungle, Carl and Russell soon become the guardians of a rare 13-foot-tall bird that's being hunted by an evil adventurer named Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer). His dogs are equipped with high-tech collars that translate their thoughts into speech, but when one of them malfunctions, the results are hilarious.
Pixar's first-ever 3-D release is, of course, visually stunning and a feast for the eyes. But the sheer brilliance of "Up" lies in its ability to make something so deep, profound and complex seem so innocent, fun and simple. But then again, that's always been the key to Pixar's success, which is why their films just keep getting better and better.
So how the heck does Pixar do it? Who cares, as long as they keep doing it.
Verdict: SEE IT!