Reel Shorts | Up

29 05 2009

up-1
To simply call Pixar projects animated films is like looking at gold and saying it’s shiny. The prestigious film studio’s latest masterpiece, “Up,” blends great storytelling with a child-like innocence and plenty of humor to create a film that continues to expand the boundaries of animated fare. “Up” is not only one of the best animated films of the year but maybe the best period!

Within the first ten minutes, it becomes obvious that co-directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson have more on their minds that just entertaining their audience. The film begins as a poignant and somber look at the life of the Fredricksens, Carl (Edward Asner) and Ellie (Elie Docter). Meeting as children explorers, the two marry and look forward to a great adventure. Unable to give his wife the adventure he promises, Carl gets one more chance to make it right.

Shut out from the world and content to almost waste away, Carl’s solitude is interrupted by young Wilderness scout, Russell (Jordan Nagai) who needs just one more badge to become a Senior Explorer. Sending Russell on a fool’s errand, the two would become reacquainted again in a very peculiar way.

Inspired by his childhood hero, explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), Carl sets out to fulfill his promise to his wife by sailing his house to fabled Paradise Falls in South America. In the midst of his journey, Carl discovers much to his chagrin that the pesky Russell managed to come along for the ride.

Initially cool to the idea of toting the inquisitive Wilderness scout along, the two bond over a serious of hilarious and thrilling sequences with companions, Kevin the bird and faithfully dog, Dug (Peterson).

Some of the film’s funniest moments come courtesy of man’s best friends. Designed as protect and attack dogs, they come fitted with collars that articulate their emotions – in side-splitting fashion. Hunting the “small mailman” and the “one who smells like prunes,” this pack of highly-trained canines provide the lion’s share of the film’s humor.

Featuring eye-popping animated effects, a tender score, clever sight gags and plenty of poignant moments that may brings tears to your eyes, “Up” is the perfect family film. While many animated films struggle to find the balance between satisfying it’s core audience but not losing the adults, “Up” walks that fine with style, humor and plenty of panache.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Carl’s character resembles the late Spencer Tracy and Muntz strongly favors Kirk Douglas. Voiced by veteran actors, Asner and Plummer, their presence adds further credence to the small touches and constant attention to detail that the filmmakers of Hollywood’s most consistently successful studio employ.

Superior to last year’s animated Oscar winner, “Wall-E,” “Up” is a triumph that is not so much something that is watched, but experienced. While industry insider thought that the studio had reached it’s ceiling last year, “Up” shatters that notion. What Disney took 75 years to perfect, Pixar has surpassed in under 15. “Up” is a breezy, light symbol of hope that as long as we dream ALL of our great adventures are right around the corner!

Grade: A+

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