Friday, October 23, 2009
UP! - up and away in my beautiful balloon
They say your life flashes before your eyes before you die, well in the case of up! We see Carl Fredricksen’s (Ed Asner) life flash before our eyes in the first several minutes of the film. We see Carl as a young man longing to be an explorer. We see Carl happen upon his future wife, Ellie; we see them grow up together, we see them go through the good times and the bad times, we see them grow old and eventually we see the passing of Ellie. Never in my years of film obsession have I ever grown to love a character so fast and then subsequently shed tears for their lose than I do with Carl. If Pixar had decided to skip this intro to Carl’s life the film would have had a completely different impact, you wouldn’t have cared for him, he would have just been a cantankerous old man.
The premise is simple enough; it’s a story of a man going to extremes to do what he promised his wife they were going to do. They had decided many years ago to build a house at the top of paradise falls (based on angel falls in Venezuela) and seeing as the banks are hassling Carl to sell his home he decides the best thing to do is attach millions of helium balloons and fly his house there, sounds easy enough right? Actually the flying the house to South America part is actually very easy, It’s the people he picks up along the way and the adventures they end up going on that complicate Carl’s plan. Soon after Carl takes off he discovers that a young wilderness explorer named Russell on his front porch, he was under it when they took off looking for a snipe. When they get to Paradise Falls after a bit of bad weather they discover that they can walk the house to Carl’s desired destination. On the way to set the house down they encounter a bird and a dog that can talk via a special collar. Not to give too much away, basically the dog (Doug) works for a man who’s after the bird and the adventures for rest of the film are that of Carl trying to stop his one time hero (Charles Muntz voiced by Christopher Plummer) from taking the bird and Doug (who may be one of Pixar’s most lovable character ever) and Russell helping him against Charles and his band of killer, though loveably ordinary dogs.
Up! May very well be Pixar’s finest bit of animation, It takes the opposite view of ratatouille which went out of it’s way to be insanely detailed. Up! Tends to be more simplistic, but I find it fits the style of the story wonderfully. The film manages to blend emotional highs and lows, depression and elation seamlessly to produce an honest look at one man’s life. 5 out of 5 stars