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Up (2009)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Is the film worth your time?

Charming, fun, and rich, Up takes us on an eventful animated ride watching the late-in-life transformation of Carl Fredricksen. Although the questions explored by the film are not particularly deep, Up’s creative coup is that it’s story and dialog are intricate, nuanced, and entertaining enough to engage us as it reconnects us to the familiar. We are better for the reconnection. Familiar questions are no less valuable for being familiar, especially because they are often easily forgotten. Questions like: How do offer real love to another? In what ways do hold love tightly in a self-centered way? To whom do we owe love? What happens when we value dreams and things above people? It’s good for us all to be re-grounded in such basics of love and life.

Up is well-conceived and well-executed. The style of art in its animation — as in Carl’s massively square jaw and Russell’s rotund little movements — is well-matched with the tone of the film and reinforces the film’s characters and charm. There’s a pervasive lightness throughout most of the film that, by way of fun, engages us with its familiar themes. It’s an excellent film. When you’re due for a reminder about the important things in life — or when you simply need some lighthearted fun — spend some worthwhile time with Up. Or, if you have only a short bit of time, watch only the first few minutes of Up — it serves as a compelling, insightful, and excellently done picture of a beautiful life-long relationship.

Carl Fredricksen is elderly and very alone. Not only has he lost the long, true, and deep love of his life, the noisy city has invaded his peaceful neighborhood. He’s now the lone homeowner holdout in the midst of a bustling and intrusive downtown. His desire to be left alone is also violated by Russell, a perky little boy scout who is quite persistent about doing his good turn to earn a merit badge. Threatened with eviction, Carl hatches an escape plan. He converts his house into a flying machine by attaching innumerable helium balloons. High in the air, having eluded the grasp of the authorities, he discovers that Russell is on his front porch, having come for another attempt at his good turn just as the house took off. Thus the two fly off into a tale of conflict, discovery, and renewal. Running time: 96 min.

There are some intense scenes of battle where the villians give it all they’ve got to kill the protagonists, but no one actually dies.

  • Director: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson
  • Screenplay: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, with story collaboration by Thomas McCarthy
  • Leads: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, Christopher Plummer, Bob Peterson, Elie Docter
  • Music: Michael Giacchino

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