Review for the Kiddies
Up is a fantastic, exciting voyage to South America! With a magic flying house, grouchy grandpa-type Carl Fredricksen and his little buddy Russell explore the jungle, meet a funny talking dog, and save a giant bird from a crazy old man in a zepplin! Featuring lots of laughs and some surprisingly tense action, Up isn’t for super-young kids, but any child over 5 will have a whole flying house full of fun!
Review for Grownups
Up spends its first 20 minutes or so grinding away at its protagonist’s life so savagely that it may reduce you to tears. Carl marries his childhood sweetheart, and in short cinematic order their lives rush by. Unable to have the children they desire, Carl and his wife Ellie pin their dreams on an eventual voyage to Venezuela, one she does not live to see. Crushed and alone, Carl spends all day in his house, talking to his dead wife while a heartless and marginalizing city grows up around him. Eventually, he is committed to a home, and realizing he has nothing to lose in death, flies his house on the voyage his dead wife always wanted to take. Carl’s flying house and the film’s other aeronautic hijinks show more than a passing Hayao Miyazaki inspiration, which is to be expected due to his close relationship with Pixar exec John Lasseter.
Carl is accompanied on his trek by Russell, a boyscout whose enthusiasm for nature is motivated by the love of a father who has long since abandoned him. The villain of the film is Carl’s boyhood hero, a man so lonely and obsessed that he seems less genuinely evil and more completely pitiable. Behind most of the film, these undertones of losing people and ideas we love can be felt in how the characters act and what they do. The whole movie is built on foundations of sorrow.
You might think this would make Up a sad movie, and it does, but it also makes its many happy moments stand out that much more clearly. The movie draws strong, heartfelt performances from all the members of its talented cast, and had, to me, no slip-ups on its way. And don’t worry: if you’ve seen the short film The Ark, and about halfway through Up you start to worry it’ll end the same way- it doesn’t. You can relax. Unlike Pixar’s other movies, Up probably won’t have a lot of commercial visibility. There will be some product tie-ins, but many companies have already publicly shied from the film. The reason is pretty obvious; ageism is an established thing in movies and just because Pixar rose above it doesn’t mean companies will.
In short: Up is a moving, sophisticated film that will appeal to adults and children on totally different levels and shines above other kids cinema on the market as a complex narrative on human feelings and behavior.