Review: Up (2009)

Carl Fredrickson's house floats away in this Pixar adventure...

Up‘s premise, like most Pixar films, is far-fetched but stays neatly on the good side of ridiculous. Charting the perilous adventure undertaken by old man Carl Fredrickson (Ed Asner) and the inquisitive scout Russell (Jordan Nagai) after Carl’s house takes flight thanks to thousands of attached balloons. Their adventure leads them to the heart of South America where they find talking dogs, a crazed explorer and a wonderfully colourful bird named Kevin – all this with a floating house in tow.

The journey, echoing that of Nemo’s father and countless other Pixar creations, meanders between hilarious goofs to heartfelt moments with ease and, although such praise is bounded about for countless films on a daily basis, Up‘s hugely likeable characters are behind the success of the story. The relentlessly chirpy Russell offers refreshing relief against Carl’s grumpy exterior whilst the delightful dog Doug is brilliant. Finally getting to hear what dog’s really think, we find that they are just as dappy as we always thought.

As bright, colourful and cheering as Up may be, it knows how to play the heartstrings too and this is its greatest strength by far. Perhaps the saddest intro to a film ever, Up begins with a brief history of Carl’s life – seeing him blissfully in love with wife Ellie who later dies of cancer (as well as suffering the devastating news that they are unable to have children), audiences are inundated with a barrage of sadness all in the space of a few minutes. Vowing to live up to their adventurous dreams, Carl chooses to leave his life behind and find their dream spot. Mishaps inevitably ensue and he soon finds himself face to face with his childhood hero – who regrettably differs greatly to all expectations he ever held.

Critically acclaimed, as well as receiving prestigious nominations at the Oscars, Up‘s popularity is unanimous with animation fans and critics alike. Although the film sometimes feels like it needs a little impetus it is redeemed by its cast as well as its glorious animation.

The world created in Up is enveloping and is breath-takingly vibrant when viewed in 3D. The story is simple but effective and insists that no-one’s adventurous side should ever be quelled. Well-meaning and warm, Up will quash all bad feelings and lift your spirits up, up and away.

Best bit: The house’s journey through the sky.
Best line: ‘Squirrel!’
Best performance: Doug.
Watch this if you liked:
Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Toy Story

It’s estimated that over 12 million balloons would be needed to realistically lift Carl’s house – only 20,622 balloons are used by Pixar when the house first takes off. So sorry to, er, burst any illusions, but physics isn’t on Up‘s side.

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